Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Vilma Edginton


entrepreneurial leadership, humble leadership, leadership development, startup culture, startup performance




Startups play a vital role in employment opportunities, creating new markets, and economic developments in a nation. However, several challenges, such as financial and scalability factors, confront startups at the initial stages because of the highly uncertain startup business environment. Recent research has confirmed that the development of startups is indeed connected to leadership. A literature review revealed that entrepreneurial leadership, as opposed to mainstream leadership theories, is more suitable to explain the complex leadership process in startup growth and development. A qualitative, single case study was conducted to investigate the leadership characteristics of successful startup founders to explain the impact of leadership on startup performance. The researcher adopted the primary data collection method to include interviews with 17 founders and leaders from four startup companies. Four data themes were identified: The impact of leadership behavior on startup culture; Leadership approaches driving startup success; Developing emerging leadership behavior because of changing startup business environment; and Improved organizational performance driven by leadership development. Compared to an extensive literature review and anticipated themes, the finding the impact of leadership behavior on startup culture was the most significant, followed closely by Developing emerging leadership behavior because of changing startup business environment. Overall, the emerging leadership styles, including entrepreneurial leadership and humble leadership, appeared to have a positive impact on startup performance. However, the humble leadership style was not explored in the literature review because of its infancy in the academic circle. As a result, it does not contribute significantly to the existing body of knowledge.

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