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Do leadership styles promote ambidextrous innovation? Case of knowledge-intensive firms

Sarra Berraies (Université de Tunis, Institut Supérieur de Gestion de Tunis, Laboratoire Arbre)
Syrine Zine El Abidine (Université de Tunis, Institut Supérieur de Gestion de Tunis, Laboratoire Arbre)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 30 May 2019

Issue publication date: 17 June 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of the transformational and transactional leadership styles and its sub-dimensions on exploitative and exploratory innovations. The authors deepened the analysis by highlighting the contribution of ambidextrous leadership on ambidextrous innovation.

Design/methodology/approach

The conceptual model defined through a thorough review of the literature is tested empirically on a sample of 265 senior managers working in Tunisian knowledge-intensive firms (KIFs). A quantitative analysis is performed via a questionnaire. The analysis of the data collected is carried out using the partial least squares method.

Findings

Results show that exploratory innovation is linked to transformational leadership and in particular to individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation and inspirational motivation. Moreover, exploitative innovation is promoted by transformational and transactional leadership styles and particularly by attributed idealized influence and contingent rewards. Also, ambidextrous leadership affects positively ambidextrous innovation.

Originality/value

While little studies have investigated how the transformational and transactional leadership styles as constructs of second-order influence differently exploitative innovation and exploratory innovation, this research deepens the analysis by focusing on sub-dimensions of leadership styles that promote each type of innovation within KIFs. It also pioneers the investigation of the effect of ambidextrous leadership on ambidextrous innovation that has never been explored. This research provides important insights for leaders of KIFs and sheds the light on the key aspects of leadership that boost ambidextrous innovation.

Keywords

Citation

Berraies, S. and Zine El Abidine, S. (2019), "Do leadership styles promote ambidextrous innovation? Case of knowledge-intensive firms", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 836-859. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-09-2018-0566

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited