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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/approachThe 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.FindingsResults 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/valueWhile 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.
Journal of Knowledge Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 17, 2019
Keywords: Ambidextrous leadership; Transactional leadership; Exploitative innovation; Transformational leadership; Exploratory innovation; Knowledge-intensive firms
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