Journal of Information Technology

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 185–206 | Cite as

e-Leadership through strategic alignment: an empirical study of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the digital age

  • Weizi Li
  • Kecheng Liu
  • Maksim Belitski
  • Abby Ghobadian
  • Nicholas O'Regan
Research Article


Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the European economy. A critical challenge faced by SME leaders, as a consequence of the continuing digital technology revolution, is how to optimally align business strategy with digital technology to fully leverage the potential offered by these technologies in pursuit of longevity and growth. There is a paucity of empirical research examining how e-leadership in SMEs drives successful alignment between business strategy and digital technology fostering longevity and growth. To address this gap, in this paper we develop an empirically derived e-leadership model. Initially we develop a theoretical model of e-leadership drawing on strategic alignment theory. This provides a theoretical foundation on how SMEs can harness digital technology in support of their business strategy enabling sustainable growth. An in-depth empirical study was undertaken interviewing 42 successful European SME leaders to validate, advance and substantiate our theoretically driven model. The outcome of the two stage process – inductive development of a theoretically driven e-leadership model and deductive advancement to develop a complete model through in-depth interviews with successful European SME leaders – is an e-leadership model with specific constructs fostering effective strategic alignment. The resulting diagnostic model enables SME decision makers to exercise effective e-leadership by creating productive alignment between business strategy and digital technology improving longevity and growth prospects.


e-leadership small- and medium-sized enterprises strategic alignment organisational change digital technology 



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Authors and Affiliations

  • Weizi Li
    • 1
  • Kecheng Liu
    • 1
  • Maksim Belitski
    • 2
  • Abby Ghobadian
    • 2
  • Nicholas O'Regan
    • 3
  1. 1.Informatics Research Centre, Henley Business School, University of ReadingReadingUK
  2. 2.Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour, Henley Business School, University of ReadingReadingUK
  3. 3.Bristol Business School, University of West EnglandEnglandUK

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