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Enhancing academic performance: investigating the nexus between digital leadership and the role of digital culture

Ahmad Fadhly Arham (Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Melaka, Malaysia)
Nor Sabrena Norizan (Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Melaka, Malaysia)
Zulkefli Muhamad Hanapiyah (Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Melaka, Malaysia)
Maz Izuan Mazalan (Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Melaka, Malaysia)
Heri Yanto (Faculty of Economy, Universitas Negeri Semarang, Semarang, Indonesia)

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 15 April 2024




The purpose of this study is to establish the relationship between digital leadership and academic performance. It models the digitalization process, outlining why and how digital leadership is important for better academic performance. At the same time, this study examines the role of digital culture as a moderating variable in the direct relationship between main variables of the study. The study aims to expand the domain of academic performance at the university by including a much recent leadership-related aspect and organizational context of the digital culture.


The study opted for a descriptive study, using the survey instruments to collect the data. The sample population consisted of students currently enrolled at the Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Melaka, Malaysia. Based on the convenience sampling, 383 samples were drawn from the sample population. All items were adopted from previous literature, and expert feedback was obtained to examine the validity of the instruments. The data were analysed using SPSS and SmartPLS version 3.0.


This study provides empirical insights about how digital leadership is important for academic performance for the new millennials. Also, digital culture is found to provide significant moderation effect into the relationship. It suggests that universities must promote digitalization culture and embed the use of technology and digitalization into teaching and learning to cultivate a more effective learning process among university students. This is important as elements of digital leadership, including adaptive role, attitude, digital competency, digital skill and inspirational role, are found to significantly contribute to academic performance.

Research limitations/implications

This study only focuses on samples taken from one of the faculties in one campus, thus limiting its scope. Future research is encouraged to replicate the same study setting to include larger sample size from different faculties, or perhaps from different universities. These propositions could help to better generalize the research findings on the practice of digital leadership on academic performance in the country. However, this study established a digital leadership model that can be applied to undergraduate students at the universities. Also, the inclusion of digital culture can strengthen the learning process.

Practical implications

This study includes implications for the development of digital leadership attributes and promoting digital culture within the university students and environment for engaging in a better academic performance. Digital leadership is found to be an important criterion of academic performance in this digital age society, and cultivating digital culture enhances students’ academic performance. These findings shall prompt the university to actively engage in fostering digitalization culture within the university. Also, the top management of the university should inform the students to be adaptive and cultivate the attributes of digital leaders, as their readiness to cope with the technological change has significant positive impact on their academic performance.

Social implications

It is important to ensure that the future graduates that are being produced are ready to take on more challenges as digital leaders in the digital society. This might accelerate the country’s initiatives and efforts towards becoming a developed nation. Thus, investing in oneself to become digitally literate and competent might not only influence their academic performance, but they will also be equipped to fulfil one of the expectations of future employers of potential graduates, which is possessing digital leadership.


Digitalization is not only about the technology. It is about the people too. As the study on digital leadership is still in its infant stage, this study is unique as it is among the earliest to establish digital leadership constructs within the context of Malaysia. It informs the university that digital leadership provides significant contribution to academic performance. Thus, the university is encouraged to nurture digitalization, not only in the teaching and learning but also with the people within the university environment. Determining the right programs and plans for the curricular will help students to develop digital leadership attributes more effectively. Finally, improving digitalization among its students and culture is important, as these elements provide significant effect towards academic performance.



This research project is financed under the Strategic Research Partnership grant. It is a collaboration between partnering universities: Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia (100-RMC 5/3/SRP INT (012/2022)) and Universitas Negeri Semarang, Indonesia (B/2451/UN37.1.7/KS/2022). The authors would like to extend their gratitude to both universities.


Arham, A.F., Norizan, N.S., Muhamad Hanapiyah, Z., Mazalan, M.I. and Yanto, H. (2024), "Enhancing academic performance: investigating the nexus between digital leadership and the role of digital culture", The Bottom Line, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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