S. (Syed) Gilani

Syed Gilani
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
ERIM PhD Candidate (parttime programme)
Affiliated since 2017

PhD Track Strategic renewal: By means of an Ambidextrous Organization (Journey – Leadership, dynamic management capabilities, and scaling of new businesses)

Businesses around the world are perplexed by competitive disruption, uncertain market dynamics, and government interventions. Strategic renewal is important for evolution and long term firm survival. Empirical studies suggest that organizational long-term survival and performance is positively linked to its ability to simultaneously exploit and explore i.e. organizational ambidexterity. However, ambidexterity leads to persistent contradictory tensions that require dynamic management over time.

In line with the Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification, Saudi Telecom Company has set forth an aggressive strategy to double the size of the company through growth (exploration) while simultaneously extracting and leveraging its existing core assets (exploitation). Such a strategy is a classic example of strategic paradox that STC’s management has to manage in their growth journey.

Outcomes: Key outcomes of the project are 1) Leadership’s dynamic decision making and management capabilities at multi-level required for managing a portfolio of new businesses while simultaneously focusing on existing core business and 2) Process of initiation, development, and transition to scale of new businesses initiatives in a large multi-business organization in a continuously evolving environment.

Contributions: The research will contribute to theory and practice of the selected areas of organizational ambidexterity theory. Current literature takes a static view of ambidexterity, addressing structures, processes, and leadership types to understand paradoxical tensions due to ambidexterity, and has little to no focus on scaling up of new business initiatives. This project will focus on a) dynamic view of ambidexterity focussing on how environmental triggers shift the levels of exploration and exploitation, b) multi-level dynamic managerial decision making to manage the paradoxical tensions, and c) scaling up of new initiatives. All these three contributions are important to understand the dynamic nature of ambidexterity triggered by environmental factors and dynamic managerial decisions to manage the resulting tensions. In addition, understanding the process, criterion, and decision making for scaling of initiatives is crucial for reaping the real benefits for the organization.

Study 1 scope: Study 1 will be focusing on why and how organizational ambidexterity emerges, changes, and unfolds over time. The main objective of this study is to address: Leadership’s dynamic decision making and management capabilities required for managing a portfolio of new businesses while simultaneously focusing on existing core business.

Study 2 scope: Study 2 will be focusing on how new businesses are initiated, developed, and transitioned to scale in an organization’s journey towards ambidexterity. The study will address multi-level role of leadership on initiatives level, interface management, and how new businesses are scaled.

Research methodology: Both studies will be longitudinal and process based, however, study 1 will be on organizational and study 2 on initiatives level. Qualitative mixed methods - Interviews, archival data, and historical and real-time field observation will be used. Theoretical lenses for both studies will be paradox theory, ambidexterity theory, leadership decision making theory, and dynamic capabilities theory.

Sample for study 1 study will be number of temporal observations – progression of events and activities forming comparative units of analysis within a stream of longitudinal data. Sample for study 2 will be 11+ new business initiatives driven by the new corporate development unit at STC.

Time frame
2017 -


Visiting address

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

Postal address

Postbus 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam