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Building competitive advantage through social intrapreneurship

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Purpose ‐ The paper seeks to offer a novel perspective on "deep benefit management" in inclusive business ventures at the Base-of-the-Pyramid (BoP). Furthermore, it explores tensions between social impact creation and financial objectives in multinational corporations (MNCs). Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper opts for an exploratory research design using empirical data, including an expert interview survey and expert discussions. Data is supplemented by documentary analysis, including corporate publications as well as case and impact studies. The paper applies a nested cross-case comparison of three sustainability driven initiatives of PHILIPS Electronics. Findings ‐ The paper provides empirical insights on value creation for customers and partners. Findings indicate the need for "external benefit management". In addition, MNCs can gain financial as well as non-financial benefits by venturing at the BoP. "Internal benefit management" should consider employee engagement, reputation, and partnering capabilities. Nevertheless, results indicate conflicts between social and financial objectives to which employees respond with "social intrapreneurship". Research limitations/implications ‐ Due to the research methodology, results may not be generalized. Future research is encouraged to corroborate findings. Practical implications ‐ The paper develops deep benefit management as a powerful tool to plan, manage, and assess value creation in inclusive BoP ventures. Further, the paper proposes to establish protective space in MNCs to capitalize on social intrapreneurship. Originality/value ‐ This study provides an enhanced understanding of benefits of and barriers for inclusive business. Novel insights on social intrapreneurship are provided additionally.
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Keywords: Base-of-the-Pyramid; Deep benefit management; Inclusive business; Organizational barriers; Social intrapreneurship; Sustainable innovation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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