PURPOSE : The purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of a positive form of leadership, particularly authentic leadership, on ambidexterity, as ambidexterity has shown to improve financial performance. What is less clear, however, is how to create the organisational context towards ambidexterity or balanced exploitative and explorative innovation. This study set out to fill that gap in researching the direct influence of authentic leadership as well as indirect effect through innovation climate on ambidexterity.
DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH : A quantitative research approach was followed, with an online survey to employees in South African organisations. There were 733 useable questionnaires. Structural equation modelling was used to test proposed hypotheses of direct, indirect and moderation effects.
FINDINGS : The results revealed that authentic leadership has a significant and positive direct effect on ambidexterity and a significant indirect effect through an innovation climate. Environmental dynamism lessened the regression weight of the relationship between authentic leadership and ambidexterity.
RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS : The data collected were cross-sectional and respondents were South African employees; therefore, caution should be exercised when generalising the results to other organisations in a broader African context.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS : Understanding that both authentic leadership and innovation climate are required to significantly influence ambidexterity allows organisations to direct their leadership selection and development.
ORIGINALITY/VALUE : The main contribution of this research lies in clarifying the influence of authentic leadership on ambidexterity in the South African context.