Leadership and innovation capability development in strategic alliances

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 2014, 35 (5), pp. 442 - 469
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© Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine whether heterogeneity in alliance capability development can be attributed to the use of certain intra-firm leadership behaviors. The author suggests that transformational leadership behaviors have a stronger influence on the development of innovation (dynamic) capabilities of a strategic alliance than on the development of operational (substantive) capabilities, and that transactional leadership behaviors mainly preserve operational capabilities. Design/methodology/approach – The author used in-depth expert interviews and a questionnaire survey comprising 369 strategic business alliances to develop and test the theoretical framework. Findings – The data confirm the positive relationship between transformational leadership and the development of innovation and operational capabilities. Yet, transactional leadership behaviors are not only associated with operational capability development, but notably contribute to the development of innovation capabilities. Research limitations/implications –While the study focusses on leadership, there are many more factors that impact on the strategic ability of alliances to deliver innovation outcomes. Other limitations are the multiple levels of analysis in the theoretical model, newly developed measurement scales and that responses for the empirical study only come from one partner of the alliance. Practical implications – The study suggests advantages of exercising the full range of leadership behaviors when seeking innovation alliance outcomes. Originality/value – This research contributes to the strategic management, innovation, leadership, and alliances literature by providing new and empirical validation of the effectiveness of particular leadership behaviors in collaborative settings.
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