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Understanding the relationships among knowledge-oriented leadership, knowledge management capacity, innovation performance and organizational performance: A serial mediation analysis

Mert Gürlek (School of Tourism and Hotel Management, Burdur Mehmet Akif Ersoy University, Burdur, Turkey)
Murat Çemberci (Department of Management, Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 28 April 2020

Issue publication date: 22 October 2020




Drawing on knowledge-based theory, contingency theory of leadership, social learning theory and resource-based view, this study aims to investigate the relationships among knowledge-oriented leadership (KOL), knowledge management capacity (KMC), innovation performance (IP) and organizational performance (OP).


The relationships were examined using the serial mediation model of Hayes (2013). Data were collected from the firms (N = 502) operating in technology development zones in Turkey. The sample size corresponds to 10% of total number of the firms. Within the scope of a policy called National Technology Move by public authority, Turkey has been making strong investments to produce original and advanced technology products. A significant portion of these investments is directed toward technology development zones. Therefore, research on this topic may be of interest in Turkey. It should also be noted that Turkey is a developing country and is one of the world’s 20 largest economies.


The findings show that KMC and IP serially mediate the effect of KOL on OP. In the light of the findings, KOL establishes the eligible conditions for the improvement of KMC. Enhanced KMC transforms into innovation, and as a result, OP increases. As a result, this research shows that Turkish firms under the leadership of knowledge-oriented leaders have high KMC, innovation performance and firm performance. These findings can serve as a valuable benchmark for future studies in developing countries.

Research limitations/implications

The current research has several limitations. It was carried out on the firms operating in technology development zones in Turkey. Future researches can be conducted on the firms outside the technology development zones. Second, this research was carried out in Turkey. The study was conducted in a specific national context covering only Turkish firms. It is recommended that readers be cautious when generalizing the results to different contexts (e.g. other countries and industries). Future researches can be conducted on the firms located in technology development zones in different countries. This may allow the comparison of countries. Turkey is a developing country. For this reason, developing countries should be taken into consideration in the comparison between countries, not developed countries such as the USA and European countries. Third, this is a cross-sectional study. Therefore, it does not reveal the changes in research variables over time. Longitudinal data collection is recommended for future researches.

Practical implications

The research findings are turned into a slogan and the firms are recommended the following perspective: more innovation for strong performance; a strong KMC for innovation; and for all, a strong knowledge-oriented leadership.


KOL is a quite new research field. The current study makes a significant contribution to the literature by revealing the fact that KOL is effective in increasing OP. In addition, testing via the serial mediation model the relationships which put forward how KOL increases OP, this study sheds light on organizational outcomes of KOL. There is an important gap in the search for leadership characteristics that allow knowledge-intensive firms to improve their KMC, innovation and firm performance. Therefore, this research is an important step toward filling this gap.



Gürlek, M. and Çemberci, M. (2020), "Understanding the relationships among knowledge-oriented leadership, knowledge management capacity, innovation performance and organizational performance: A serial mediation analysis", Kybernetes, Vol. 49 No. 11, pp. 2819-2846.



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