Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Abebe

Second Advisor

Dr. Jorge Gonzalez

Third Advisor

Dr. Pingshu Li


Organizations’ leaders are responsible for ensuring that firms’ proprietary assets are protected from expropriation. Firms are increasingly targets of large-scale proprietary assets breaches that jeopardize their ability to financially benefit from their innovation activities. Some firms have proactively built capabilities that allow them to protect their proprietary assets, while leaders are more security oriented and therefore do more to protect their organizations from proprietary assets breaches? Current research on leaders’ role in the protection of proprietary assets is lacking at the strategic level because most studies on organizational security have emphasized employee-level behaviors (e.g., da Veiga & Eloff, 2010, Lee, Lee & Lee, 2002; Straub & Nance, 1990). Exploring leaders’ role in proprietary asset protection is important given their role in strategic decision-making. Accordingly, research should examine leaders’ security orientation influence on firm outcomes, including the drivers of orientations and consequences for strategic choice and organizational performance.

This dissertation examines the concept of leaders’ security orientation (LSO) and its influence on choice of strategic alliance and innovation strategies, as well as on firm performance. I sought to achieve three objectives with this dissertation. First, I aimed to conceptualize LSO and measure it using a comprehensive, multi-dimension scale. Second, I explored the firm, managerial, and industry level drivers of LSO. Third, I examined the link between LSO and firms’ choices of equity and non-equity strategic alliances, exploitative and exploratory innovation, as well as firm performance. I drew insights from upper echelons, institutional, strategic sensemaking, and prospect theories.

I explored the above relationships using customized datasets drawn from different sources. I found several predictors and consequences of LSO at the managerial, firm, and industry levels, including executive technological interpretation as a threat, knowledge intensity and global presence, among others. The consequences of LSO included equity-based strategic alliances, exploitative innovation, and firm performance. I also tested and found evidence to support a mediating effect of LSO on firm performance through equity-based strategic alliances as well as a mediating effect of LSO on firm performance through exploitative innovation.


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