First, this paper aims to explore how CEO humility and relationship conflict in entrepreneurial teams affect the firm-level performance of new ventures. Second, it…
First, this paper aims to explore how CEO humility and relationship conflict in entrepreneurial teams affect the firm-level performance of new ventures. Second, it investigates the moderating effect of CEO political skills on the indirect association between CEO humility and entrepreneurial performance through relationship conflict in entrepreneurial teams.
A questionnaire survey was administered to CEOs and their entrepreneurial team members in 171 start-ups in Shanghai, China. The data obtained from the survey were subjected to multiple regression analysis using the SPSS PROCESS macro and confirmatory factor analysis using Mplus.
The findings are as follows. First, CEO humility can reduce relationship conflict in entrepreneurial teams. Second, CEO political skills moderate the link between CEO humility and relationship conflict in entrepreneurial teams. The weaker the CEO political skills, the stronger the effect of CEO humility on relationship conflict, and the stronger the CEO political skills, the weaker the effect of CEO humility on relationship conflict. Third, relationship conflict in entrepreneurial teams is negatively related to entrepreneurial performance. Finally, CEO political skills moderate the mediating effect of entrepreneurial team relationship conflict on the CEO humility – entrepreneurial performance link.
The findings of this study offer guidance for entrepreneurs seeking to improve firm performance. The findings suggest that entrepreneurs should adopt a humble leadership style that cultivates their strengths and minimizes their weaknesses. To improve the centripetal force and cohesion of the entrepreneurial team, they should focus on the team, affirm the contribution of subordinates and accept subordinates’ advice.
The study reveals that CEO humility has a positive effect on entrepreneurial performance, which enriches research on the effectiveness of humble leadership at the firm level. From the perspective of team relationship conflict, the study also explores the mechanism underlying the effect of CEO humility on entrepreneurial performance, opening the “black box” of CEO humility and entrepreneurial effectiveness. In addition, the study reveals the boundary conditions of the influence of CEO humility, enriching the theoretical literature on humble leadership, political skills and resource conservation.