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Defining ‘incubation leadership’: Identifying important behavioural traits in managers of Australian business incubation environments

posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by LD Thornton
"The small businesses sector is a significant contributor to the Australian economy, accounting for almost half of all industry employment and over a third of industry value in 2010/11. Business incubators are critical in providing start-up small businesses with an environment that allows them to stabilise and succeed. The success of the incubation facility itself is dependent on a number of factors, including the skills and abilities of its manager. Perhaps one of the most important of these is appropriate leadership, given the relationships that often occur between incubator managers and their incubatee clients. This study examined whether incubatees’ entrepreneurial attitude orientation influenced the relationship between leadership behaviours of incubator managers and the incubatee goals for their incubatees’ business. Then, the study examined the role of leadership behaviour and entrepreneurial attitude orientation as critical characteristics for managers of successful Australian business incubator environments. Finally, the study collected qualitative data on effective leadership behaviours as perceived by incubator managers and incubatees. The literature review on leadership and entrepreneurial attitude orientation resulted in the development of a new conceptual model. Through this, it was possible to test research questions across the network of business incubators in Australia. The conceptual model examined which combination of leadership behaviours and entrepreneurial attitude orientation elements were important qualities that should be expressed by managers of Australian business incubators. This model gave rise to a series of research questions. Firstly, to what extent are leadership qualities and entrepreneurial attitude orientation elements impacted by the nature of followers (incubatees) and the situation (incubatee goals)? Secondly, taking into account the mixture of leadership and entrepreneurial attitude orientation qualities, which of these are important in influencing the Australian business incubator environment? Lastly, how well do the leadership and entrepreneurial attitude orientation items from the traditional organisational literature (management of large firms) map across to managers of the Australian business incubator environment? A survey research methodology was used to collect quantitative and qualitative data from forty-four incubator managers and ninety-six incubatees sampled across a range of Australian business incubator types. A new survey was developed, comprised of items from a Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ), Entrepreneurial Attitude Orientation (EAO) scale and an incubatee goals scale. Data were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The study arrived at factors with approximate factorial equivalence to those originally theorised. A combination of correlation, regression and thematic matrices were then employed to test the proposed conceptual model, that is, to examine the relationships between leadership, entrepreneurial attitude orientation and incubatee goals. A number of key findings emerged from this study. Business owners who exhibit a strong entrepreneurial attitude orientation are generally expected to perform better because of their business approach. Again, this was supported by the results from this study, which showed a significant and positive correlation between innovation, personal control, and business achievement. However, higher levels of entrepreneurial attitude (entrepreneurial attitude orientation) and inspirational motivation (transformational leadership) were associated with lower levels of customer and employee relations. An explanation of the findings showed customer relationships were significant and negatively correlated with entrepreneurial attitude. Also, having an insight into leadership effectiveness could be considered as a possible source of competitive business advantage, especially for incubatees. This appeared to be supported by the current study, where the interrelationships between leaders, followers and the situation influence the incubatee in achieving business survivorship through ‘incubation leadership’."--Abstract.



Central Queensland University

Additional Rights

I hereby grant to Central Queensland University or its agents the right to archive and to make available my thesis or dissertation in whole or in part through Central Queensland University’s Institutional Repository, ACQUIRE, in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all copyright, including the right to use future works (such as articles or books), all or part of this thesis or dissertation.

Open Access

  • Yes

External Author Affiliations

Faculty of Arts, Business, Informatics and Education; School of Business and Law (2013- );

Era Eligible

  • No


Professor John Rolfe ; Dr Susan Kinnear ; Dr Michael Muchiri ; Dr Paul Waight

Thesis Type

  • Master's by Research Thesis

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