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Enacting Digital Ambidexterity: The Case of the Swedish Public Sector

Conference paper
Authors Johan Magnusson
Michael Kizito
Andreas Nilsson
Published in Proceedings of the 25th Americas conference on Information Systems
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords ambidexterity, enactment, digital government, digital ambidexterity
Subject categories Information Systems


Digitalization brings with it a necessary parallel quest for increased efficiency and innovation. In line with the foundational literature on organizational ambidexterity, this corresponds to the balancing between exploration and exploitation. With ambidexterity perceived as a dynamic process rather than a state, research has called for additional studies on how ambidexterity is enacted. This study utilizes data collected in a survey of digital ambidexterity in the Swedish Public sector in 2018, with 2,000 respondents from 70 organizations. As part of the survey, individual respondents were asked about recent or currently active initiatives that were seen as positive for increased ambidexterity. These accounts are used as a basis for analyzing the enactment of digital ambidexterity in the public sector. The findings show that there are three clear patterns in the enactment of digital ambidexterity. First, there is a strong focus on technological rather than strategic or organizational initiatives. Second, there is a heavy emphasis on initiatives for increased efficiency rather than innovation. Third, the bulk of initiatives are directed towards increased digital ambidexterity, rather than first dealing with the digital heritage. These findings are discussed in line with the ambidexterity literature, to identify avenues for future research into the continued study of the enactment of ambidexterity.

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