Sun, P.Y.-T. & Anderson, M.H. (2011). The combined influence of top and middle management leadership styles on absorptive capacity. Management Learning, published online on May 10 2011.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5354
Absorptive capacity is an important organizational capability constituted by exploratory, transformative, and exploitative learning processes. Leadership has been shown to affect such processes, but little is known about how the combined leadership styles of top and middle management influence absorptive capacity. This theory-building, exploratory qualitative case study discusses the need for top and middle management to be ambidextrous and to change their styles to better facilitate the three different learning processes. We found that an exploratory learning process was facilitated when both top and middle management used a transformational style, a transformative learning process was facilitated when top management used a transformational style while middle management used a transactional style, and an exploitative learning process was facilitated when both top and middle management used a transactional style. Furthermore, for each of the three learning processes, the leadership styles of top and middle management operated more effectively when certain attributes of the organizational context were emphasized.
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