טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentAfanassiev Anastassia
SubjectAmbidextrous Leadership and its Effect on
the Two Components of Innovation
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Miriam Erez
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

The Innovation process consists of two major phases - the ideation and the implementation. However, most of the research in organizational behavior focuses on innovation as one whole performance outcome, whether it is a product, a service, or a new technology. Similarly, leaders for innovation are mostly evaluated in terms of their opening behaviors, encouraging employees to explore, be creative, and learn from errors. However, innovation also consists of implementing creative ideas, and this part of the process requires close monitoring of the quality, time, and resources needed for the implementation. Such leadership behavior is known as closing behavior. The two sub-processes of innovation suggest that innovation's effective leadership behaviors should switch between opening and closing behaviors. Switching between the two types of behaviors is known as ambidextrous leadership. We suggest that switching between the two leadership behaviors is not enough, and leaders should adjust their behaviors to the relevant phase in the innovation process. The present study's objective is to test the effect of the leaders' instructions switching order. We propose the opening type in the creative idea generation phase and the closing type in the implementation phase as leading to the highest level of innovative performance. We tested the order effect on the performance of the two phases and the overall innovation performance using an online experiment. We used emails sent by the leader to communicate the opening and closing instructions. Participants were 100 students randomly assigned to four experimental conditions: Instructions by the leader reflecting the opening behaviors in the two phases; Instructions reflecting the closing behaviors in the two phases; Opening and closing leadership behaviors in the ideation and implementation phases respectively, and closing and opening leadership behaviors in the two phases respectively. At the beginning of the ideation and the implementation phases, we used a vignette which consisted of an email message, sent to the employees (participants) by their managers, who communicated different combinations of opening-closing leadership behaviors in the two phases, based on Rosing et al. (2011). The innovative task required to generate as many new features as possible for a refrigerator at the ideation phase. At the implementation phase, the task required to make a detailed implementation plan. Planning the implementation served as a guidebook for building the new refrigerator.

The results supported our hypotheses. Our results demonstrated that the fit between the leaders' behavior (opening or closing) and the task requirements (creative idea generation and their implementation) influenced innovation. The present study contributes to the paradoxical leadership theory (Zhang, 2015) by highlighting the order effect's crucial role. When testing the integrative innovation score, the findings showed that ambidextrous leadership behaviors led to the highest innovation level. We suggest that the unique characteristic of ambidextrous leaders is their ability to adapt their leadership behavior to the task requirement, as well as the ability of the employees to adapt themselves to a different leadership behavior style.