They who sow shall reap: leadership and innovative work behavior within Dutch tech start-ups

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The majority of technology start-ups fail during the first two years of operation. Tech start-ups fail mostly by being unable to identify a market that recognizes the value of the product or service and is prepared to pay for it. Tech start-ups that are able to introduce inventions, which are created based on ideas, in a higher tempo manner, have a better chance of surviving since they learn faster what works and what doesn't. Employees are one of the key providers of these inventions, as they arise from ideas the employees provide. When an employee thinks of ideas, proposesses them or implements an idea, it is defined as innovative work behavior and comprises several phases (IWB). Certain leadership styles play a significant role in fostering IWB as previous research indicated. Yet, previous research incorporated one leadership style and has overlooked the search for specific leadership mechanisms that foster IWB. To date, it is not entirely clear how specific leadership styles affect the different stages of IWB within the dutch tech start-up landscape, which has led to the following research question: How do the entrepreneurial and transformational leadership styles of founders within Dutch tech start-ups influence the employees’ innovative work behavior. The research was conducted through a qualitative multiple case study approach. 4 tech start-ups participated as cases and per start-up three employees were interviewed through semi structured interviews. A blended coding process has been used to analyze the data. The results suggest that the transformational and entrepreneurial leadership style influence IWB in different ways. Different mechanisms are employed per phase and the leadership styles may be present simultaneously. This suggests that founders can apply and learn different mechanisms to stimulate IWB within dutch tech start-ups.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen