March (1991) originally referred to organizational ambidexterity as the tension between exploration and exploitation, while more recent ambidexterity publications focus more on alignment versus adaptation strategies. Are entrepreneurs ambidextrous, or do they tend to favor exploitation or exploration? While much of the entrepreneurship literature conjures up notions of highly creative and innovative entrepreneurial efforts, recent empirical evidence, particularly from PSEDI and PSEDII, paint a much different picture – a picture of small business pursuits characterized by an emphasis on self-employment and exploitation.

Many researchers of ambidexterity suggest that mastery of both adaptability and alignment are necessary for long term success, but for the period of start-up and new venture management, is ambidexterity appropriate? This study examines the ambidexterity of entrepreneurs versus managers of SMEs, and explores the relative performance of strategies based on ambidexterity, exploitation, and exploration.