Leading an entrepreneurial workforce: development or decline?

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ This paper analyses entrepreneurial activity within existing organisations. Research tends to limit entrepreneurial behaviour to owner-managers, corporate senior and middle managers and frequently presents intrapreneurship as a positive phenomenon. This paper seeks to broaden the focus of studies of intrapreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship across all employees in established organisations. In particular it seeks to focus on identifying the entrepreneurial propensity of employees at all levels of the organisation and to consider the positive and negative potential of this propensity on the organisation. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A single case study approach was used involving the analysis of focus groups, employee surveys, company history and financial data to identify the entrepreneurial propensity of employees in the context of an established organisation. Findings ‐ It is identified that employees within the sales function of the business had a greater entrepreneurial propensity in comparison to employees in other departments of the business. It is argued that this was due to a less formal structure in this part of the business and a greater focus on successfully achieving goals. It is further argued that organisational structures, opportunity and needs have to meet individual skills, experience and desire in order to create development opportunities for entrepreneurial organisations. Research limitations/implications ‐ It is suggested that in considering intrapreneurship, researchers should broaden their focus to include all employees within an organisation. Practical implications ‐ It is suggested that senior managers should consider the role of entrepreneurial propensity amongst employees and the potential for this to either harm or help develop the business. Originality/value ‐ This paper adds value to the debate on corporate entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship by considering the role of employees at all organisational levels. Furthermore it acknowledges the positive and negative effects which entrepreneurial propensity may have on the organisation.
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