Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research
1997 Edition

SUMMARIES

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CORPORATE ENTREPRENEURSHIP:  THE EXTREME CASE OF TOP EXECUTIVE INTRAPRENEURS AND THE CONSEQUENCES FOR ORGANISATIONAL LEARNING ABOUT INNOVATIONS
Hubert S. Staudt

Copenhagen Business School
2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark

Telephone: 45-3815-3630
Fax: Ivey: 45-3815-2658
E-mail: Staudt@cbs.dk

Principal Topics

The paper analyses how successful corporate intrapreneurs can continue to learn from and about innovations when they are promoted on top management positions.  The promotion of intrapreneurs to executive positions has been recommended by management scholars and is common practice in many business firms.  However, executive intrapreneurs and organisations are likely to experience learning traps.  Paradoxically, the same strategies that promote intrapreneurial success endanger innovation success on the corporate level.  The paper discusses contributing theories of organisational learning and innovation to underline this observation.

Method

The paper is based on qualitative research using the case study method.  Data were collected from five different business firms by interviewing two groups of managers:

(A)  Managers responsible for innovation development; and
(B) Corporate managers (executive intrapreneurs) in charge of resource allocation to innovation projects.  A total of 48 interviews was conducted.

Findings/Implications

The analysis of the case studies suggests four approaches to overcome the learning traps associated with the promotion of intrapreneurs to corporate executive managers.

1. Creating Resistance
2. Institutionalising Feedback Mechanisms
3. Mapping Project Qualifications
4. Modelling and Communicating the Innovation Process

The paper discusses these implications with regard to both theory contribution and relevance to management practice.

 

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