Digital leadership: transitioning into the digital age

Prince, Kylie Ann (2018) Digital leadership: transitioning into the digital age. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Aims and Objectives: Today's globally competitive digital business environments drive CEOs quest for Australian corporates to find global sustainability. Such Australian corporate CEOs see business success as more than simply competition defined by financial profit. These CEOs likely recognise digital business models should encompass strong customer focus, and a need to improve performance for betterment of society.

In doing so, today's Australian corporate CEOs generally recognize both they and their corporate need to be digitally savvy and engaged in jointly managing digitally-enabled business models. Consequently, many Australian corporates are undergoing some form of digital transformation yet estimates of only 8% of Australian corporates are getting their desired results.

Therefore, a Digital Leadership framework supports Australian corporate CEOs development in the digital age is important, and to develop a transitioning model to help Australian corporate CEOs understand how to digitally transform in an easy simplified manner is also important.

Scope: Even though tomorrow's digital frontier remains partly unknown, new digital business models are emerging, shaping and disrupting existing global business environment. Australian corporate CEOs are now competing for a finite global marketspace in a competitive digital environment. Thus, these CEOs are exploring smart strategies to digitally advance their corporate. This is known as digital transformation.

Previous research indicates only 5% of corporate CEOs possess strong Digital Leadership credentials, but 72% are wanting to develop new Digital Leadership programs. While projections into the future indicate by 2025 adoption and use of digital technologies may add around $250B to Australia's GDP, further projections to 2050 indicate China expects greater GDP than United States and India expects to be 3rd globally in GDP.

Therefore, Australian CEOs need to be prepared to lead their corporates through radical digital transformation using strong Digital Leadership. However, outlook indicates 86% of Australian business leaders are 'overwhelmed' by digital transformation projects, and 70% are struggling to keep pace with digital innovation.

Globally, today's corporate leaders display a competitive global focus, flexibility with using one or more leadership approaches creating dynamic, digital engagement strategies energize and motivate their workforce to promote collaboration. Countries such as China acknowledge technologies shape demand for digital skills, and indicate skills in business analytics, mobile connectivities and cloud data shall be needed across the next five years, at least.

Global CEOs must also pursue similar digital transformations to remain competitive. Although Australian corporate CEOs acknowledge need to digitally transform, they may need a cutting-edge leadership approach to lead digital transformation in order to outperform global competition. This required cutting-edge leadership approach is known in this research as Digital Leadership.

Literature support best leadership approach in the digital age is a combination of leadership approaches with broad leadership strategies and skills sets. Hence, this research proposes a Digital Leadership framework encompassing a combination of three macro leadership approaches (authentic, transactional, and transformational).

A Digital Leadership framework is developed to define Digital Leadership; and further develops a Digital Leadership Conceptual Model to explain Digital Leaders influence on digital transformation processes. This research then proposes this conceptual model as the Digital Leadership Research Model, ready for testing.

Methodology: This research uses mixed methods to test the Digital Leadership Research Model. Measurement items are developed from existing measures and compiled into a survey structure. This on-line survey is conducted with Australian corporate CEOs, with N=165 usable responses.

Quantitative data supports testing of the Digital Leadership Research Model. While qualitative data provides further support and interesting analysis of Australian CEOs opinions on most important factors a corporate leader should have in the digital age.

Data analysis plans to use appropriate software for; data preparation, frequencies and factor reduction (SPSS), structural equation modelling (SEM) path analysis (AMOS), and qualitative analysis (NVivo).

Results Summary: Data validates through comparing demographic information with previously published data. Descriptive statistics analysed, and data found to have normal distribution. Overall SEM measures of goodness-of-fit of the Digital Leadership Research Model are excellent.

Qualitative results provide support for the SEM path model and demonstrate how Digital Leadership may be measured in a three-dimensional space. Further analysis provides insight into how Australian corporate leaders are thinking with interesting word frequency effects.

Conclusions: Although qualitative responses from Australian corporate CEOs suggest strong digital transformation understanding, they demonstrate transformation is not top-of-mind. There appears to be a mismatch between Australian corporate CEOs level of digital savviness and ability to implement digital transformation.

This research makes real-world contributions to how Digital Leaders may achieve digital transformation, through various pathways; and supports conceptualisation of Digital Leadership. This is discussed comparatively with digitally transforming corporates. Further contributions include defining Digital Leadership, and foundations for development of a Digital Leadership theory. Future contribution includes developing the Digital Leadership Research Model as a theoretical transformation model.

Item ID: 58922
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: authentic, digital, digital age, digital leadership, digitize, leadership, organization, strategy, technology, transactional, transformational
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Kylie Ann Prince.
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2019 02:17
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150399 Business and Management not elsewhere classified @ 30%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150307 Innovation and Technology Management @ 35%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150310 Organisation and Management Theory @ 35%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9099 Other Commercial Services and Tourism > 909999 Commercial Services and Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 33%
89 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 8999 Other Information and Communication Services > 899999 Information and Communication Services not elsewhere classified @ 33%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939908 Workforce Transition and Employment @ 34%
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