The increasingly dynamic global business environment has brought tension and conflicts into the organizational life of employees. At the individual level, ambidexterity is the individual ability to pursue both exploitation and exploration and combine and gain synergies between them. Although researchers recognize the importance of resolving contradictory behaviors to organizational ambidexterity, most studies focus on organizational level and top management to find resolutions of tension and conflicts. At present, the research on individual ambidexterity mainly focuses on the following three aspects: the first is to explore the individual characteristics that are conducive to the integration of conflicting activities; the second is from a perspective of organizational context; the third argues that informal social networks of employees promote their ambidextrous behaviors. However, few studies have focused on the role of leadership in promoting the ambidextrous behavior of front-line employees. In the research practice, although some scholars have found that paradoxical leadership behavior can promote employees’ performance, but neglect the discussion of individual ambidextrous behavior at the micro-level. Researchers fail to answer the question of whether paradoxical leadership can promote the ambidextrous behaviors of employees. To address these concerns, this paper intends to answer the above questions from two perspectives. First of all, recent studies by foreign scholars show that paradoxical leadership includes not only performance dimension but also supportive dimension. Performance dimension means that supervisors set higher performance goals for subordinates to tap potential of subordinates, while supportive dimension refers to supervisors’ trust, guidance and assistance to subordinates. This paper examines the impact of the complementarity of performance and support on employee ambidexterity. Secondly, psychological security is an important psychological factor that affects employees’ ambidextrous behaviors based on the intrinsic motivation theory. Therefore, this paper chooses psychological security as an intermediate variable. In a recent study, some researchers point out that thriving at work impacts employees’ ambidextrous behaviors. Therefore, this paper chooses thriving at work as the mediating variable in addition to the psychological mechanism and puts forward the logic path, namely paradoxical leadership-thriving at work-employee ambidextrous behavior. Based on the data collected from a survey of 316 frontline employees, this paper uses structural equation to analyze the data. It arrives at the main findings as follows: firstly, paradoxical leadership has a significant positive impact on the ambidextrous behavior of front-line employees; secondly, the influence of paradoxical leadership on employee ambidexterity is completely through psychological security and thriving at work; thirdly, there is no significant difference in the specific intermediary role of psychological security and thriving at work, however, the individual mediation effect of thriving at work is significantly greater than chain mediation effect resulting from its combination with psychological safety. Our study contributes to the literature in two significant ways. Firstly, the paradoxical leadership is divided into two dimensions: performance and support. By analyzing the role of complementarity in promoting ambidextrous activities of employees, this paper expands the research level of traditional relationship of leadership-organization ambidexterity. It provides a new perspective for revealing the microscopic foundation of organizational ambidexterity. Secondly, through the introduction of two intermediary variables, psychological safety and thriving at work, proposes and tests a dual psychological pathway through which paradoxical leadership relates to ambidextrous behavior. As prior research has examined a motivation-based explanation, our focus on the thriving framework extends it to individual ambidexterity research and provides an opportunity to test the utility of these complementarity perspectives in demonstrating the sense of agency that provides the psychological underpinning of ambidexterity behavior.
How Does Paradoxical Leadership Enhance Individual Ambidexterity? The Composite Multiple Mediating Role of Psychological Safety and Thriving at Work
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 03, pp. 107 - 120 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.03.008
 Andriopoulos C, Lewis M W. Exploitation-exploration tensions and organizational ambidexterity: managing paradoxes of innovation[J]. Organization Science, 2009, 20(4): 696-717.
 Bernerth J B, Aguinis H. A critical review and best‐practice recommendations for control variable usage[J]. Personnel Psychology, 2016, 69(1): 229-283.
 Cannon M D, Edmondson A C. Confronting failure: Antecedents and consequences of shared beliefs about failure in organizational work groups[J]. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 2001, 22(2): 161-177.
 Chen R, Zheng Y H, Liu W J. Mediation Analysis: Principles, Procedures, Bootstrap Methods and Applications[J].Journal of Marketing Science, 2013，(4):120-135.
 Edmondson A. Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams[J]. Administrative Science Quarterly, 1999, 44(2): 350-383.
 Edmondson A C. Speaking up in the operating room: How team leaders promote learning in interdisciplinary action teams[J].Journal of Management Studies, 2003, 40（6）: 1419–1452.
 Fang J, Wen Z L, Zhang M Q, Sun P Z. Analyzing Multilevel Mediation Using Multilevel Structural Equation Models[J].Journal of Psychological Science,2014，37(3):735-741.
 Gibson C B, Birkinshaw J. The antecedents, consequences, and mediating role of organizational ambidexterity[J]. Academy of Management Journal, 2004, 47(2): 209-226.
 Jaiswal N K, Dhar R L. The influence of servant leadership, trust in leader and thriving on employee creativity[J]. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 2017, 38(1): 2-21.
 Jansen J J P, George G, Van Den Bosch F A J, et al. Senior team attributes and organizational ambidexterity: The moderating role of transformational leadership[J]. Journal of Management Studies, 2008, 45(5): 982-1007.
 Jansen J J P, Kostopoulos K C, Mihalache O R, et al. A Socio‐Psychological Perspective on Team Ambidexterity: The Contingency Role of Supportive Leadership Behaviours[J]. Journal of Management Studies, 2016, 53(6): 939-965.
 Kao Y L, Chen C F. Antecedents, consequences and moderators of ambidextrous behaviours among frontline employees[J]. Management Decision, 2016, 54(8): 1846-1860.
 Kauppila O P, Tempelaar M P. The social‐cognitive underpinnings of employees’ ambidextrous behaviour and the supportive role of group managers’ leadership[J]. Journal of Management Studies, 2016, 53(6): 1019-1044.
 Kostopoulos K C, Bozionelos N. Team exploratory and exploitative learning: Psychological safety, task conflict, and team performance[J]. Group & Organization Management, 2011, 36(3): 385-415.
 Lau R S, Cheung G W. Estimating and comparing specific mediation effects in complex latent variable models[J]. Organizational Research Methods, 2012, 15(1): 3-16.
 Lavine M. Paradoxical leadership and the competing values framework[J]. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 2014, 50(2): 189-205.
 Lewis M W, Andriopoulos C, Smith W K. Paradoxical leadership to enable strategic agility[J]. California Management Review, 2014, 56(3): 58-77.
 Loon M, Lim Y M, Lee T H. Transformational leadership and job-related learning[J]. Management Research Review, 2012, 35(3-4): 192-205.
 Luo J L, Hua C H, Zhong J. Research on the influence of paradoxical leadership on the innovation of knowledge team and its mechanism[J].Science & Technology Progress and Policy, 2015，(11):121-125.
 Luo J L, Zhao L, Han Y, et al. Overview and Prospect on Research of Ambidextrous Leadership[J].Chinese Journal of Management,2016, 13(12):1882-1889.
 Lüscher L S, Lewis M W. Organizational change and managerial sensemaking: Working through paradox[J]. Academy of Management Journal, 2008, 51(2): 221-240.
 Mihalache O R, Jansen J J P, Van Den Bosch F A J, et al. Top management team shared leadership and organizational ambidexterity: A moderated mediation framework[J]. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 2014, 8(2): 128-148.
 Paterson T A, Luthans F, Jeung W. Thriving at work: Impact of psychological capital and supervisor support[J]. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 2014, 35(3): 434-446.
 Porath C, Spreitzer G, Gibson C, et al. Thriving at work: Toward its measurement, construct validation, and theoretical refinement[J]. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 2012, 33(2): 250-275.
 Preacher K J, Zyphur M J, Zhang Z. A general multilevel SEM framework for assessing multilevel mediation. Psychological Methods, 2010, 15(3): 209-233.
 Rao-Nicholson R, Khan Z, Akhtar P, et al. The impact of leadership on organizational ambidexterity and employee psychological safety in the global acquisitions of emerging market multinationals[J]. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 2016, 27(20): 2461-2487.
 Rapp A A, Bachrach D G, Flaherty K E, et al. The role of the sales-service interface and ambidexterity in the evolving organization: A multilevel research agenda[J]. Journal of Service Research, 2017, 20(1): 59-75.
 Rosing K, Frese M, Bausch A. Explaining the heterogeneity of the leadership-innovation relationship: Ambidextrous leadership[J]. The Leadership Quarterly, 2011, 22(5): 956-974.
 Smith W K. Dynamic decision making: A model of senior leaders managing strategic paradoxes[J]. Academy of Management Journal, 2014, 57(6): 1592-1623.
 Smith W K, Besharov M L, Wessels A K, et al. A paradoxical leadership model for social entrepreneurs: Challenges, leadership skills, and pedagogical tools for managing social and commercial demands[J]. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2012, 11（3）: 463–478.
 Stock R M. Is Boreout a threat to frontline employees' innovative work behavior?[J]. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 2015, 32(4): 574-592.
 Wallace J C, Butts M M, Johnson P D, et al. A multilevel model of employee innovation understanding the effects of regulatory focus, thriving, and employee involvement climate[J]. Journal of Management, 2016, 42(4): 982-1004.
 Yu T, Patterson P G, De Ruyter K. Achieving service-sales ambidexterity[J]. Journal of Service Research, 2013, 16(1): 52-66.
 Zhang H, Niu Z B. An Empirical Research on Impacts of Trait and State Optimism on Service Performance of Frontline Service Employees: Based on the Framework of “Role Stress Burnout-Job Outcome”[J]. Nankai Business Review，2013，16(1):110-121.
 Zhang X M, Bartol K M. Linking empowering leadership and employee creativity: The influence of psychological empowerment, intrinsic motivation, and creative process engagement[J]. Academy of Management Journal, 2010, 53(1): 107-128.
 Zhang Y, Waldman D A, Han Y L, et al. Paradoxical leader behaviors in people management: Antecedents and consequences[J]. Academy of Management Journal, 2015, 58(2): 538-566.
Cite this article
Wang Zhaohui. How Does Paradoxical Leadership Enhance Individual Ambidexterity? The Composite Multiple Mediating Role of Psychological Safety and Thriving at Work[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(3): 107-120.
Previous: How Does Organizational Justice Motivate the Organization? A Group-Level Study on the Influence and Its Mechanisms of Justice Climate on Group Voice Behavior