Strategic Leadership of Innovation: A Framework for Future Research

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Generating and implementing innovative ideas is a key organizational effort to achieve superior performance and secure competitive advantages. Accordingly, the influence of strategic leaders on organizational innovation is increasingly drawing research attention. In this study, we review and synthesize research on how strategic leaders (chief executive officers, top management teams, and boards of directors) influence innovation and propose a framework to guide future research on this important topic. We explain how existing theories rely on discretional or architectural mechanisms to explain strategic leaders’ influence on innovation and review how current studies relate strategic leaders to the specific stages of the innovation process. We also discuss the role of the internal and external environment in moderating these relationships and provide an overview and criticism of theoretical and methodological issues. Overall, we discuss the most relevant findings of the field, analyze how specific suggestions drawn from our framework can contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the influence of strategic leaders on innovation, and propose multiple research opportunities.


First published: 12 December 2020.