Levers of Control and Employee Ambidexterity in Small Chinese Firms
This study examines the relationship between the Levers of Control (LoC) framework and employee ambidexterity in small Chinese enterprises. Data were collected from three small Chinese firms through 51 interviews during multiple in-depth case studies. Using the theory of planned behaviour, this research identifies the specific LoC that encourage employees to have four behaviours (collaboration, connection, multitasking, and entrepreneurial alertness) that lead to achieving employee ambidexterity (alignment and adaptability). Belief and the boundary systems play a crucial role in creating employee ambidexterity, while interactive control systems are more beneficial for adaptability. As seen from the employee's perspective, the diagnostic control systems have perceived impact on employee ambidexterity. The findings contribute to the development of LoC theory and practice, and also suggest that small firms need to find ways to motivate their employees’ capabilities to cope with the highly competitive marketplace. Future qualitative and quantitative research can explore how these the four systems interact in other contexts, as well as what other factors affect employee ambidexterity.