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Industry 4.0: the impact of strategic leadership behaviour on organisational response to the adoption of technological innovation.

Morgan, Laura Rose Wilson


Laura Rose Wilson Morgan



The rapid development and cross-interaction between emerging technologies is called Industry 4.0, and it is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Organisational leaders are seeking to understand how to lead their firms to benefit from the opportunities that these technologies offer, as well as mitigating against the threats that the technologies could pose. This thesis aims to examine how Industry 4.0 and strategic leadership behaviours are intersecting and influencing each other. This study forms part of the requirement for completion of a Doctorate of Business Administration, a professional doctorate that was undertaken whilst the researcher was in full time employment in a leadership role. Partially influenced by professional practice, the research philosophy that underpins the study is pragmatic. Data collection was completed using semi-structured qualitative interviews. Data analysis included inductive and deductive thematic analysis to re-signify strategic leadership behaviour in the context of Industry 4.0. Yukl's 2012 hierarchal behavioural taxonomy was selected as the most appropriate framework to connect to existing literature on leadership behaviour. The primary finding is the display of knowledge management behaviours by strategic organisational leaders. This thesis recommends significant changes to Yukl's behavioural taxonomy by the addition of a metacategory called 'knowledge-based behaviours', and removal of 'externally focused behaviours' metacategory. This metacategory is partially populated by previously-identified behaviours: networking, external monitoring, representing, and facilitating collective learning. The objectives behind these behaviours are revised in line with the findings of this study. Additionally, a novel behaviour of critical evaluation is also included in the knowledge-based behaviour metacategory. Secondary findings include the revising the objectives of existing behaviours, as well as the identification of another novel behaviour 'mission matching'. Finally, the study provides evidence that the enablers and challenges of Industry 4.0 adoption previously theoretically identified in literature are broadly applicable; however, there is divergence on which factors have the most impact. This study also identified additional factors such as scepticism and the lack of a clear definition of Industry 4.0 impeding collective learning behaviours in organisations. This thesis proposes an updated definition of Industry 4.0, as well as a conceptual framework to assist with categorising technologies.


MORGAN, L.R.W. 2022. Industry 4.0: the impact of strategic leadership behaviour on organisational response to the adoption of technological innovation. Robert Gordon University, DBA thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 15, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jun 15, 2023
Keywords Industry 4.0; Fourth industrial revolution; Technology and business; Leadership; Knowledge management; Innovation
Public URL
Award Date Oct 31, 2022


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