A double-edged sword: the effects of ambidextrous leadership on follower innovative behaviors

Shuanglong Wang, Nathan Eva, Alexander Newman, Haihua Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Despite growing work on the positive outcomes resulting from ambidextrous leadership, limited research has examined whether ambidextrous leadership always has desirable consequences on followers. In order to achieve explorative and exploitative innovation, ambidextrous leaders are required to perform two styles of leadership behaviors, namely opening and closing leadership behaviors. The present study argues that as followers are reliant on their leaders to provide them with information and clarification about the tasks, by engaging in ambidextrous leadership behaviors to try and foster innovative behaviors amongst their followers, the leader may unintendedly increase the follower’s job stress and role ambiguity. Drawing on a sample of 416 leader–follower dyads, we established that while ambidextrous leadership contributes to the innovative behaviors of followers, it also increases followers’ job stress and role ambiguity, which subsequently reduces innovative behaviors. The results suggest that ambidextrous leadership has two faces, enabling and burdening, which can both enhance and stifle innovative behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1305-1326
Number of pages22
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Management
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Ambidextrous leadership
  • Innovative behavior
  • Job stress
  • Leadership
  • Role ambiguity

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