Original Research

Linking ambidextrous leadership and small and medium scale enterprises export performance

Ejikeme E. Isichei, Anas A. Aminu, Benjamin I. Chukwu, Nnia M. Ike, Kalu E. Agbaeze, Igwe Anthony
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 53, No 1 | a2791 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v53i1.2791 | © 2022 Ejikeme E. Isichei, Anas A. Aminu, Benjamin I. Chukwu, Nnia M. Ike, Kalu E. Agbaeze, Igwe Anthony | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 July 2021 | Published: 28 October 2022

About the author(s)

Ejikeme E. Isichei, Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Humanities, Social and Management Sciences, Federal University Wukari, Wukari, Nigeria
Anas A. Aminu, Department of Human Resources and Management, Business School, Aberystwyth University, Wales, United Kingdom
Benjamin I. Chukwu, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Nnia M. Ike, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Kalu E. Agbaeze, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Igwe Anthony, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria


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Abstract

Purpose: This article focuses on the mediating role of innovation orientation and the moderating role of organisational trust (OT) on the relationship between ambidextrous leadership (AL) and export performance (EP). The need to highlight the drivers of AL and its influence on EP necessitated this study.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors subjected sample data set from 420 respondents that engage in direct and indirect export activities to inferential analysis using partial least square (SEM).

Findings/results: This study reveals that innovation orientation mediates AL and EP, as the direct link was not significant and organisation trust moderates the relationship.

Practical implications: Leaders’ ambidexterity should incorporate a clearly defined orientation towards innovation that supports knowledge sharing and guides the need for innovative support while also ensuring that employees have high trust in the organisation.

Originality/value: This study validates the leadership complexity theory and adds to EP literature on the relevance of innovation orientation and OT as good predictors of EP.


Keywords

ambidextrous leadership; innovation orientation; SMEs’ export performance; organisational trust; knowledge structure; developing economies

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