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Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept

Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. Hisrich

Entrepreneurship is an emerging and evolving field of inquiry. Entrepreneurship research has been expanding its boundaries by exploring and developing explanations and predictions of entrepreneurship phenomena in terms of events, such as innovation, new venture creation and growth, and in terms of characteristics of individual entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organizations. The largest institutionalized community of entrepreneurship scholars – the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management – has developed an entrepreneurship specific domain that incorporates the creation and management of new businesses, small businesses and family businesses, and the characteristics and special problems of entrepreneurs; it has further identified major topics such as new venture ideas and strategies, ecological influences on venture creation and demise, the acquisition and management of venture capital and venture teams, self-employment, the ownermanager, management succession, corporate venturing, and the relationship between entrepreneurship and economic development. One growing entrepreneurship research subfield is intrapreneurship, i.e. entrepreneurship in existing organizations. Emerging in the past two decades, the initial research in intrapreneurship focused on new business venturing, i.e. the formation of new ventures by existing organizations, mostly corporations, and the focus on the entrepreneurial individual inside a corporation – this focus was then extended to include entrepreneurial characteristics at the organizational level. Intrapreneurship research has evolved into three focal areas. The first area of focus is on the individual intrapreneur (Souder, 1981; Pinchot, 1985; Luchsinger and Bagby, 1987; Ross, 1987; Lessem, 1988; Knight, 1989; McKinney and McKinney, 1989; Jones and Butler, 1992; Jennings et al., 1994), mainly emphasizing the intrapreneur’s individual characteristics. Recognition and support of entrepreneurs in organizations is also a part of this focal area. The second area of focus has been on the formation of new corporate ventures (Hlavacek and Thompson, 1973; Cooper,
This article was supported by a grant from the Mixon-Callahan Fund.

The authors Bostjan Antoncic is Professor ± Entrepreneurship in the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Robert D. Hisrich is Mixon Chaired Professor in the MAPS Department, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Keywords Intrapreneurship, Entrepreneurialism, Management, Strategy, Competitiveness Abstract This research contributes to the development of the theory of intrapreneurship by clarifying the intrapreneurship concept. Intrapreneurship is more precisely defined by referring to emergent behavioral intentions and behaviors that are related to departures from the customary ways of doing business in existing organizations. The intrapreneurship concept is positioned in the management literature, is contrasted with other similar management concepts and developed as an integrative concept composed of eight distinct, yet related dimensions. Electronic access The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . Number 1 . 2003 . pp. 7-24 # MCB UP Limited . ISSN 1462-6004 DOI 10.1108/14626000310461187


1984. 1984.. Hisrich and Peters. 1984). tries to cover both individual and organizational level entrepreneurship characteristics. and if effect expands on this work. 1994. 1985. We are not aware of any study that systematically differentiates intrapreneurship from a group of similar yet distinct management concepts. MacMillan et al. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 .. entrepreneurial and administrative managerial behavior (Stevenson and Gumpert. 1994. Stopford and Baden-Fuller. 1993. 2003 . their fit with the corporation. Quinn. 1994). 1994. 1992). Their discussion of entrepreneurial orientation. and intrapreneurship – new firm formation (Hlavacek and Thompson. with a primary emphasis on the differentiation of types of new ventures. 1988. To clarify this. or customary activities. The third area of focus is on the entrepreneurial organization (Hanan. and their enabling corporate internal environment. 1992. 1993. Kuratko et al. Defining intrapreneurship Entrepreneurship When looking at defining entrepreneurship: Increased consensus has been attained on the concept of entrepreneurship as the process of uncovering and developing an opportunity to create value through innovation and seizing that opportunity without regard to either resources (human and capital) or the location of the entrepreneur – in a new or existing company (Churchill.. even if organizationally-centered. Burgelman. 1981. 1985). entrepreneurs and owner/managers (Schumpeter. MacMillan et al. p. Kanter. Hisrich and Peters. 1984. and improving an understanding of entrepreneurial organizations. or a process of emergence (Gartner et al. it is necessary to re-clarify the dimensional structure of intrapreneurship concept by bounding it at the organizational level of analysis. Fast and Pratt. 1991). differentiate entrepreneurship from nonentrepreneurship. 1984. integrative efforts are still rare. This definition of entrepreneurship is used in this paper as it provides a view consistent with historically-defined distinctions between entrepreneurial and lessentrepreneurial small business owners and small business ventures (Carland et al. 1985. 1985. 1992). Rule and Irwin. 1976. 1984. they tried to be too inclusive by not making a categorical decision on the level of analysis. This is reflected in their 8 discussion on autonomy and some autonomous activities without specifically stressing new business venturing activities and strategic firm-level considerations as selfrenewal that were reflected in the work of Zahra (1991. They identified most of the key dimensions of a firm-level entrepreneurship concept such as autonomy. 1988. Szypersky and Klandt. Carrier. 1934). and entrepreneurial and less-entrepreneurial firmbehavior (Covin and Slevin. their conceptualizations gave too little emphasis on the central domains of entrepreneurship – emergence (Gartner et al. Vesper. 1973. Cooper.. 1981. 1993) in his studies of entrepreneurship at the corporate level. 1979.. Burgelman. 1984. 1995).. 1985. proactiveness and competitive aggressiveness. While a great deal of understanding has been obtained in the past two decades. 1990. Number 1 . 1981. Muzyka et al. 1984. This paper corrects these deficiencies. 7-24 1981. Emergence-related behavioral intentions and behaviors. innovativeness. 1984. Krueger and Brazeal. Burgelman. Lumpkin and Dess (1996) provided an excellent conceptualization of entrepreneurial orientation. Szypersky and Klandt. Carrier. 1981. improving understanding of successful intrapreneurs and new corporate ventures in their context. While making an important contribution to the understanding of entrepreneurship orientation in general. which refers more to management of existing. Merrifield. 1983.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D.. which mainly emphasizes characteristics of such organizations. 1984. by providing a definition that differentiates intrapreneurship from other similar management concepts identifies key dimensions of intrapreneurship. 586). The main objective of this paper is the clarification of the intrapreneurship concept. Schollhammer. Stevenson and Jarillo. Krueger and Brazeal. such as organization formation and innovation. 1994).. Vesper. risk taking. Entrepreneurship is considered an individual or organizational level behavioral phenomenon. In addition. Drucker. The main contributions of the intrapreneurship sub-field have been in: raising awareness and understanding of the role of entrepreneurship in existing organizations for the revitalization and performance of those organizations. Fast and Pratt. Pinchot. Duncan et al. It is in .

. 1993). which are discussed in the following section. as well as the organizational. as well as in other intrapreneurship studies (Zahra. Such a definition is needed as a starting point because in intrapreneurship research: . In effect. Entrepreneurship in organizations is a matter of degree. Lumpkin and Dess. 7-24 accordance with the Schumpeterian outcomebased concept that entrepreneurship refers to value creation by carrying out new combinations that cause discontinuity. Pure forms. . but do not actually exist in the real world. as a spirit of entrepreneurship within the existing organization (Hisrich and Peters. 1990). 1999. In this view. and as creation of new organizations by an organization. At the individual. broad definitions better reflect the early stage of development of the field. New firm creation is the most obvious manifestation of entrepreneurship and.. and provide considerable latitude for a theoretical and empirical process to emerge that will eventually permit the unique parts of the whole to be classified. Organizations can be viewed on the intrapreneurship continuum that ranges from less to more entrepreneurial. 1999). risk taking. 1997. such as new venture formation or breakthrough innovation. p. which can be observed in a series of smaller events. however. self-renewal. 1997. 1993. 1995). innovative. 1982. Lumpkin. Others limit the term only to new venture formation (Kanter and Richardson. and competitive aggressiveness. Intrapreneurial processes go on inside an existing firm. In previous research. Rule and Irwin. such as totally entrepreneurial or totally non-entrepreneurial organizations are abstractions that help us understand reality. 2003 . non-innovative. intrapreneurship is defined as entrepreneurship within an existing organization. Badguerahanian and Abetti. 1991. . product/service innovation. and in Brazeal and Herbert’s (1999) organizational entrepreneurship representation that ranges from the entrepreneurially-challenged firm (with a non-existent commitment to entrepreneurship) to the entrepreneurial firm (with a total commitment to entrepreneurship). technologies. This is due to the fact that some established companies may form more units or firms than other organizations. defined. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . or in one or few larger events. level. entrepreneurship exists only when new combinations are actually carried out and ceases when this process is completed (Bull and Willard. In this paper. as doing new things and departing from the customary to pursue opportunities (Vesper. 1988. Intrapreneurship refers not only to the creation of new business ventures. intrapreneurship has been defined in several ways: as a process by which individuals inside organizations pursue opportunities independent of the resources they currently control (Stevenson and Jarillo. 12). Intrapreneurship’s broadest definition is perhaps entrepreneurship within an existing organization[1]. 9 Knight. new firm formation may also be seen in relative terms. strategies and competitive postures. Intrapreneurship At the organizational level. 1985. Pinchot. new firm vs no new firm). Since this paper deals with entrepreneurship at the organizational level. avoid the need for excessive retrenchment as new knowledge becomes available. Its characteristic dimensions. referring to emergent behavioral intentions and behaviors of an organization that are related to departures from the customary. are new business venturing. in absolute terms. Some researchers used narrower definitions excluding smaller organizations and focusing on corporations (Schollhammer. as such. The view in this paper is that organizations differ with regard to levels of entrepreneurship. 1998). as well as in relative terms (more entrepreneurial vs less entrepreneurial). and reactive) firms and entrepreneurial (risk taking. 1990). administrative techniques. 1985. 1998). 1993). the most important topic of examination of entrepreneurship at the individual level. 1983. process innovation. regardless of its size. and understood in relation to that whole (Sharma and Chrisman. services. Entrepreneurship can be viewed in both absolute terms (for example. and proactive) firms. 1991. Kuratko et al. but also to other innovative activities and orientations such as development of new products. The view of intrapreneurship as a continuum is evident in Covin and Slevin’s (1989) distinction between conservative (risk averse. Burgelman. entrepreneurship is comprised of such noncustomary events. Number 1 .Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. or as an instigation of renewal and innovation within that organization (Sharma and Chrisman. entrepreneurship can be seen as either outcome-based behavior or its intentions. proactiveness.

not only in large corporations. is not about the product/market relatedness to. as well as entering new. 1982. can be considered intrapreneurial activities of existing firms. such as diversification. 1985). dominant constrained. related constrained. Christensen and Montgomery. creation and newness. 1993). Intrapreneurship can be viewed as a curious. the existing business. dominant vertical. in addition to specifying what they are and by comparing them to other similar but distinct concepts. and with the efficiency of existing production and support operations: this is the antithesis of introducing changes outside the framework of existing businesses such as the creation of new businesses or within the framework of existing businesses such as organizational renewal and innovation (Sandberg. Differentiating intrapreneurship from similar concepts Concepts can often be given a more precise definition by specifying what they are not (Osigweh. 1984. organizational learning. related linked. 1991. but rather about emergence. These categories can be assessed according to the product/market relatedness of businesses at the corporate level. 1959. or product. familiarity to the existing organizational product/market base (Roberts and Berry. 1982. Second. where endowments of organizational resources. Palepu. capability. mediumsized and large firms. dominant linkedunrelated. Montgomery. especially in terms of the positive impact of related diversification on corporate business results such as profitability (Rumelt. Peteraf. operates at organizational margins or boundaries not at the organizational core. organizational learning. 1974. since they represent departures from the customary. The core consists of the management of the customary. or an inquiry into what complements the organization’s existing 10 product/market-related resources. The capabilities concept is predominantly based on insights from resource-based theory of the firm (Penrose. Mahoney and Pandian. as well as smaller firms (Rangone. Number 1 . the relatedness can be better understood in terms of the capabilities concept. 1985). 1992. 1999). 1981. and unrelated business. A widely accepted classification of diversification strategy based on research of Rumelt (1974. constantly searching activity at the frontier. Key similarities and differences of the intrapreneurship concept as compared to similar management concepts (diversification. on the other hand. capabilities. their repetition. where the major concern is with existing routines. intrapreneurship needs to be differentiated from similar concepts. differentiate the organization from its competitors and may be an important element in explaining achievement of organizational competitive advantage for large. First. intrapreneurship. It deals with the strategic selection of businesses for entrance or expansion based on an examination of their market. unfamiliar businesses in terms of product/markets. and organizational innovation) are summarized in Table I and discussed below. and the synergy with. Diversification strategy and intrapreneurship Diversification strategy can be viewed as a reflection of corporate strategy that addresses the question of what business the organization should be in. the term intrapreneurship is more appropriate. Changing diversification focus. 1989). as emergent behavioral intentions and behaviors. Porter (1987) suggested that a diversification alternative should be assessed by using three essential tests: . not at the core. Wernerfelt. 2003 . 1982) includes seven categories: single business.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. Barney. Capabilities and intrapreneurship While diversification strategy itself has been seen as instrumental to the achievement of competitive advantage. the intrapreneurship concept can be better defined by: determining what it is not (the customary) comparing it to other similar management concepts. and organizational innovation. 1989. Since the emphasis is on entrepreneurial behavioral intentions and behaviors in small. Intrapreneurship and diversification still cannot be considered totally distinct. 1992). The concept of intrapreneurship. which are durable and difficult to imitate. 7-24 corporate entrepreneurship may also be considered an appropriate term. Specifically. Most diversification is driven by the search for synergy. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 .

create and sustain elements of competitive advantage for the firm. and organizational routines’ improvement New combinations from the organizational perspective (product. product/market unfamiliar businesses Capabilities Coherent combinations of resources and activities across value chains of organizational businesses Knowledge acquisition and retention. Porter advocated the soundness of basing a corporate strategy on relatedness or connectiveness among business units’ dependent concepts such as sharing activities and transferring skills. especially in terms of entering new. 2003 . business processes (capabilities) that link together its businesses. administrative innovation) Intrapreneurship as a manifestation of organizational innovative capabilities Intrapreneurship may create disruptions that are part of the learning process Organizational learning Organizational innovation Creation of something new in Predominant focus of terms of new combinations in intrapreneurship is also on production and support creation of new ventures. Haspelagh and Jemison (1991) viewed an organization as a set of capabilities embodied in an organizational framework that. before considering diversification options. in other words. are hard to acquire through other means than . the roots of competitiveness. Stalk et al. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . This research defined core capabilities as those that are central to competitive advantage and: incorporate an integrated set of managerial and technological skills. In this view. In this sense. Core competencies. this activities is not the focus for organizational innovativeness (1) the attractiveness test where the industries chosen for diversification should be structurally attractive or capable of being made attractive. 11 The reasoning of other researchers parallels to some extent Porter’s shared-activities view. technological. or collective learning in the organization (or corporate resources) concerning the coordination of diverse production skills and integration of multiple streams of technologies are. and (3) the better-off test where either the new unit should gain competitive advantage from its link with the corporation or vice versa. intrapreneurship also includes non-product/market-based emergent activities and orientations Search for organizational inter-business coherence and synergy not a key concern of intrapreneurship Building knowledge base. Porter wrote about the creation of horizontal organizational mechanisms that would facilitate interrelationships among the core businesses and lay the groundwork for future related diversification. (2) the cost-of-entry test where the cost of entry should not capitalize all the future profits. (1992) viewed the organization as capabilities that are even more broadly based than core competencies and encompass the entire value chain or. 7-24 Table I Differentiation of intrapreneurship from similar management concepts Concept Diversification strategy Key concern Key similarity Key difference Product/market relatedness and synergy across organizational businesses not a primary focus of intrapreneurship. For example. when applied in the marketplace.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. Number 1 . Similarly. organizational memory and routines not a main concern of intrapreneurship Product/market relatedness of Changes in diversification organizational businesses focus. Prahalad and Hamel (1990) proposed the development of strategic architecture – the road map that identifies which core competencies to build and their constituent technologies. in their view. especially through R&D and production. not all types of diversification are equally desirable and feasible in terms of business results or competitive advantage. Therefore. corporations should assess the foundations on which such corporate strategic decisions are based.

Overall. Number 1 . and improvement in organizational routines. 1987). or innovation capabilities that refer to an organizational ability to develop new products or processes (Rangone. supplement and organize knowledge and routines around their activities and within their cultures. Weick and Westley (1996. non-routine behavior in the interest of alignment’’ between existing routines and disruptive events. but instead as an emergence of diversity. who advocated sharing activities and transferring skills. contribute significantly to perceived customer benefits. Organizational learning refers to organizational acquisition and retention of knowledge. 1990). It can be viewed as routine-based. as focuses of organizational learning. and adapt and develop organizational efficiency by improving the use of broad skills of their workforces. They seem to be closer to analytical strategy making than to innovative strategy making (Miller and Friesen. but rather strengthen parts of the value chain in order for the organization to create more value than competitors. 1999). 1973). 1983) and closer to the planning mode than to the entrepreneurial mode (Mintzberg. Having a strong reliance on the existing resource base. Competitive advantage in terms of sustained profitability has also been shown to result from intrapreneurship (Zahra and Covin. 1995. no matter what expression is used such as: horizontal organizational mechanisms (Porter. p. 2003 . 377). For a diversification to be potentially successful. . but rather with emergent activities. history-dependent and targetoriented (Levitt and March. Haspelagh and Jemison (1991) identified the three most important sources of capability transfer (or synergy) – resource sharing. . intrapreneurship is not concerned with such strategic fits. i. organizational learning: . these concepts seem to operate to a large extent in the realm of management of the existing resources and activities as opposed to departing from the customary.e. intrapreneurship may create disruptions that may or may not have an impact on learning. can be described as the ways firms build. 1999). p. decisions on diversification strategy need to be grounded on something that is organization specific. According to Dodgson (1993. or core capabilities (Haspelagh and Jemison. Argote and McGrath (1993) regarded organizational experiential acquisition of knowledge and the process of its becoming embedded in the organization. Similar to Porter (1987). functional skill transfer. 1991). which is characteristic of intrapreneurship. even if intangible. it should fit capabilities in terms of transferability. they can be seen as a grounding for the development of a diversification strategy that would not shake this coherence. capabilities (Stalk et al. and can be widely applied within the company’s business domain. Capabilities can be viewed as a texture binding businesses together into a coherent whole. but also with: ‘‘accepting disruptive. where the focus is on the creation of synergies among existing businesses and between existing businesses and new businesses. to achieve competitive advantage. intrapreneurship activities and orientations related to the creation of new products and 12 processes can be viewed as a manifestation of innovative capabilities. 1992). 1997). At the same time. Organizational learning and intrapreneurship Organizational learning is the third concept from management literature that needs to be differentiated from intrapreneurship.. Intrapreneurship cannot be viewed as a search for organizational interbusiness coherence. One part of the capabilities construct. Similarly. as well as the effects of such knowledge acquisition on organizational performance. 1988) and plays an important role in the development of dynamic capabilities (Teece et al. From this vantage point. 7-24 experience. 445) associated organizational learning not only with the establishment of organizational routines. In contrast to capabilities. the two strategic management concepts (diversification and capabilities) differ from the intrapreneurship concept. Capabilities can be defined as organizationspecific combinations of tangible and intangible resources across the organizational businesses’ value chains. In particular. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . and general management skill transfer..Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. . Therefore. is actually close to intrapreneurship. even though they also share some similarities with intrapreneurship. Wiklund. strategic architecture and core competencies (Prahalad and Hamel. according to these researchers.

7-24 because these disruptions can be viewed as a change that is not necessarily related to learning (Fiol and Lyles. Indeed. i. Innovation is a broad. there may be important linkages between learning and intrapreneurship when intrapreneurship is a process that evolves over time. This background pertains to the broad view of innovation – the Schumpeterian innovation concept[2]. Innovation cannot be discounted as a defining element of entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. it is Schumpeterian innovation that differentiates behavior of entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurial managers (Carland et al. may engage in intrapreneurship more efficiently. In his view. Organizational innovation and intrapreneurship Organizational innovation is a concept from management literature that can be considered 13 the closest to the intrapreneurship concept. whose creative behavior in terms of different innovation aspects was seen as a disruption (as a creative destruction) in the economic equilibrium of an industry. routines or resources. which is founded in a prior knowledge base and the intensity of effort. and makes an effort toward improving it. Wolfe (1994). An organization may learn how to be entrepreneurial on the basis of its past experience with intrapreneurship activities and. An important reason for the use of the intrapreneurship term instead of the organizational innovation term for firm-level entrepreneurship lies in the difficulty in finding a common definition of innovation. and in organizational memories (Fiol and Lyles.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. In process terms. Gopalkrishnan and Damanpour (1997) reviewed innovation research in different research areas such as economics. the capacity to create new knowledge and to innovate (Kim. and recognized that innovation is commonly viewed as one of the key means of adapting to change as well as creating and adopting something new. Number 1 . 1997). innovation distinguishes what is entrepreneurial from what is managerial. Organizational learning. growth. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . the level of study and the innovation type. 15). it requires learning capability (capacity to assimilate knowledge) and develops problem-solving skills. 1985). Drucker (1985) also considered innovation a specific function of entrepreneurship. regardless of its starting base in terms of knowledge. and performance’’ (Gopalkrishnan and Damanpour. in this paper the intrapreneurship concept is differentiated from the innovation concept. 320) stated: Routines are based on interpretations of the past more than anticipations of future. survival. Indeed. As a concept. starts predominantly from what already exists. depending on the underlying field of study (see Gopalakrishnan and Damanpour.. in reviewing research in organizational innovation. organizational sociology and technology management. p. 2003 . making entrepreneurship and innovation almost inseparable. found that innovation has a complex. 1985). organizational learning as a process of knowledge creation and distribution in the organization has been seen as a function of the absorptive capacity. p. a reverse loop from learning to intrapreneurship may also be identified. Intrapreneurship can be seen as a possible organizational predisposition that may lead to learning. 1998). consequently. Schumpeter positioned the entrepreneur as an agent of change. Changes in organizational routines created through intrapreneurship may through time become a new routine for an organization. 1997. Similarly. it must be remembered that innovation and entrepreneurship research have an important common historical background (Sundbo. hence.e. Hence. Even if the research agendas of innovation have gone in different directions. depending on the focal stage of the innovation process. and have quite different views of its impact on an industry or a firm productivity. Learning seems to be based on routines and history (experience) or as Levitt and March (1988. 1984). context-sensitive nature. But they also found that: ‘‘researchers within each discipline conceptualize innovation differently. widely-used concept that has different meanings in . Learning starts from bases that are embedded in existing organizational activities and procedures (routines) that are repetitious. Despite this similarity. 1998). whereas intrapreneurship leaps into the relatively unknown. intrapreneurship that is viewed as a disruption of existing routines in its departure from the customary can be differentiated from learning and can be defined as establishing and improving organizational routines and knowledge. They adapt to experience incrementally in response to feedback about outcomes.

2003 . Yet. 7-24 different theoretical frames. However. technological. are outside the domain of this paper. revolutionary). Innovativeness is rather viewed in a nondichotomous fashion by focusing on the extent of innovation at the firm level. 1991) have expanded on this concept. It needs to be noted. Number 1 . 1997). organizational innovativeness can be considered a subset of intrapreneurship. The first stream. and. The use of the term intrapreneurship is a more precise way of describing organizational-level Schumpeterian-type-innovativeness-based entrepreneurship and new business venturing. Perhaps an innovation may need to be bounded by viewing it in more classical terms such as commercialization of an invention. That is. These dimensions – new business venturing. In this sense. and a continuous (evolutionary) innovation on the other pole. which predominantly means commercialization of a new product or technology. however. whereas the concern of intrapreneurship is more with emergent activities and orientations that represent departures from the customary that may or may not be product or technology innovation related. Again. it needs to be stressed that intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurship. innovation from the intrapreneurship perspective also includes additional elements. Intrapreneurship classification streams Two streams or approaches to the classification of organizational level entrepreneurship can be identified. The most important of these elements is the creation of new units or firms. by viewing organizational innovativeness broadly. which can be labeled the entrepreneurial orientation approach. Covin and Slevin (1986. that the Schumpetrian assumption of creative destruction is relaxed to a certain extent in intrapreneurship. as such. as well as innovativeness. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . to a certain extent. belongs to the domain of the entrepreneurship research field. self-renewal. proactiveness. Past classifications of organizational level entrepreneurship characteristics are summarized in Table II and discussed below. This is evident in the development of the intrapreneurship research sub-field. and the sustaining-disruptive technologies classification that is based on relationship of technological change to product performance in the marketplace (Christensen. Intrapreneurship is a more appropriate term to use because it is more specifically bounded. and aggressive posturing that are discussed in more detail in the following section. more subtle distinctions of innovativeness in products and processes. The nature of intrapreneurship at the organizational level of analysis can be better understood by identifying its dimensions. deals with entrepreneurship in existing firms and. product innovation is differentiated from production process innovation. In addition. Organizational innovativeness is more concerned with product. The two concepts share the focus on newness. and competitive aggressiveness – are discussed in the following section. proactive. However. regardless of the innovation type (discontinuous/continuous). risk-taking. such as: the incremental-modulararchitectural-radical innovation classification that is based on the extent an innovation affects core concepts and linkages between core concepts and components in production (Henderson and Clark. and retained three now widely-accepted . which is central to the entrepreneurship field as a whole. In this paper. administrative innovations. the distinction between intrapreneurship and innovation remains subtle. in this study are viewed as relative rather than absolute concepts. as well as risk-taking.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. intrapreneurship may also encompass activities and orientations that illustrate a departure from the customary in terms of changes in strategy and organizing. is based on Miller and Friesen’s (1983) categorization of innovative strategy making. which is discussed in the introduction and in the next section where two intrapreneurship research streams are identified. Intrapreneurship dimensions Intrapreneurship can be more precisely understood through its content and characteristic dimensions. product/service innovation. which is discontinuous (framebraking. process innovation. innovation is not distinguished in terms of dichotomization in a more Schumpeterian-like innovation on 14 one pole. 1990). in contrast to organizational innovativeness. renamed it entrepreneurial posture.

1993) Corporate entrepreneurship Innovation and venturing Strategic renewal Lumpkin and Dess (1996) Entrepreneurial orientation Autonomy Innovativeness Risk taking Proactiveness Competitive aggressiveness Knight (1997) Entrepreneurial orientation Innovativeness Proactiveness 15 . experimentation. 1993.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. services or technological processes’’ (Lumpkin and Dess. 5) ``Creating new business through market developments or by undertaking product. p. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . Number 1 . 146) ``Propensity to directly and intensely challenge its competitors to achieve entry or improve position’’ (Lumpkin and Dess. 1996. 1990. p. 214) ``The opposite of reactiveness and is associated with aggressive posturing relative to competitors’’ (Knight. 1996. . including the development or enhancement of products and services. . p. 5) ``The transformation of organizations through renewal of the key ideas on which they are built’’ (Guth and Ginsberg. 2003 . p. p. 222) ``Risk taking with regard to investment decisions and strategic actions in face of uncertainty’’ (Covin and Slevin. p. p. 7-24 Table II Classifications of organizational level entrepreneurship Scholars Miller and Friesen (1983) Concept name Innovation (a dimension of strategy-making) Characteristic dimensions New products Definitions ``Introductions of new products and production-service technologies. 148) ``Pursuit of creative or novel solutions to challenges confronting the firm. . 1997. 142) ``A sense of uncertainty . reorganization. 1991. 1996. 1991. 321) ``Independent action of an individual or a team in bringing forth an idea or a vision and carrying through completion’’ (Lumpkin and Dess. novelty. p. process. 321) ``The redefinition of the business concept. high leverage from borrowing and heavy commitment of resources’’ (Lumpkin and Dess. 10) ``The birth of new businesses within existing organizations’’ (Guth and Ginsberg. p. 222) ± ``The attempt to lead rather than follow competitors’’ (Miller and Friesden. p. 1996. probability of loss or negative outcome . p. and the introduction of system-wide changes for innovation’’ (Zahra. p. 10) ``The extensiveness and frequency of product innovation and the related tendency toward technological leadership’’ (Covin and Slevin. as well as administrative techniques and technologies for performing organizational functions’’ (Knight. 1990. 1997. 1991) Entrepreneurial posture Risk taking Innovativeness Proactiveness Guth and Ginsberg (1990) Corporate entrepreneurship Internal innovation or venturing Strategic renewal Zahra (1991. 1983. p. 1996. . 1983. and creative processes that may result in new products. 214) Risk taking Proactiveness Covin and Slevin (1986. p. 1993. technological and administrative innovations’’ (Zahra. 1991. the search for novel solutions to marketing and production problems’’ (Miller and Friesen. 144) ``Taking initiative by anticipating and pursuing new opportunities and by participating in emerging markets’’ (Lumpkin and Dess. p. 140) ``A firm’s tendency to engage in and support new ideas. p. 10) ``The pioneering nature of the firm’s propensity to aggressively and proactively compete with industry rivals’’ (Covin and Slevin.

newstreams (Kanter and Richardson. 1991) categorization to two dimensions (innovativeness and proactiveness) on the basis of his empirical findings. can be seen as closer to the organizational core activities than creation of new units or firms. 7-24 characteristics of firm level entrepreneurship: innovativeness. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . 1999). 1994). Instead of talking about characteristics of organizational level entrepreneurship and considering entrepreneurial orientation a uni-dimensional concept. 1982). and competitive aggressiveness. This approach. the corporate entrepreneurship approach specifically identifies two important characteristics of organization level entrepreneurship. 1984). However. Intrapreneurship includes new product development. new businesses. the new ventures dimension refers to the formation of new units or firms. risk taking. regardless of size. whereas the new businesses dimension refers to entering new businesses by the existing organization without forming new organizational entities. Previous views of organizational level entrepreneurship (intrapreneurship) can be integrated and classified into eight dimensions: new ventures. new venturing can include the formation of more formally autonomous or semi-autonomous units or firms. which is evident in works of Guth and Ginsberg (1990) and Zahra (1991. as well as in smaller established firms. and new production methods and procedures (Schollhammer. Covin and Slevin (1991) considered one part of the entrepreneurial posture a reflection of itself in the extensiveness and frequency of product innovation and the related tendency of technological leadership. 1984). 2003 . 1999). 1982). 1991). Lumpkin and Dess (1996) consider entrepreneurial orientation a multi-dimensional concept. The second stream. accounts for innovativeness in broad. 1988. 1991). dimensions related to product/ service and process innovativeness refer to product and service innovation with an emphasis on development and innovation in technology. whereas with the event of a new venture formation a new organizational element is born that represents a change in the organizational structure. 1991) has also been considered an important element of intrapreneurship. product improvements.. and corporate venturing (Sharma and Chrisman. Pursuit of and entering new businesses by redefining the company’s products (or services) (Rule and Irwin. as evident in studies of Covin and Slevin (1986. autonomous business unit creation (Vesper. the corporate entrepreneurship approach complements the entrepreneurship orientation approach by adding venturing and strategy considerations. Number 1 . proactiveness and risk taking. These new entities can reside within (internal venturing) or outside (external venturing) the existing organizational domain (Sharma and Chrisman. 1990). process innovativeness. often labeled incubative entrepreneurship (Schollhammer. 1991) and/or by developing new markets (Zahra. corporate start-ups (MacMillan et al. Zahra. Lumpkin and Dess (1996) have named the concept the entrepreneurial orientation and further extended the concept by identifying two additional dimensions: autonomy and competitive aggressiveness. Hence. can be labeled the corporate entrepreneurship approach. The first characteristic consist of corporate venturing activities or the creation of new businesses by the established corporation. 1981. product/service innovativeness. proactiveness. Overall. 1984). internal venturing (Hisrich and Peters. for all organizations. in a manner similar to the entrepreneurial orientation approach. since it deals with entrepreneurship at the overall corporation level. In large corporations. self-renewal. Schumpeterian terms. Product/service and process innovativeness In contrast. whereas the second is strategic renewal as a means of redefining strategy and organizing the corporation. Knight (1997) included the development or enhancement of products and services as well as techniques .Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. however. in contrast to the entrepreneurial orientation approach. New ventures and new businesses New business venturing is a salient characteristic of intrapreneurship since it can result in new business creation within an existing organization (Stopford and Baden16 Fuller. Entering new businesses. venturing activities (Guth and Ginsberg. 1993). This is because the new business creation emerges as a newness within the existing organizational structure. Knight (1997) also favors this multidimensional concept but has reduced Covin and Slevin’s (1986.

Indeed. .Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. However. where entrepreneurial strategy-making is characterized by dramatic forward leaps. procedures. Miles and Snow (1978) view their prospector firms as risk takers. Risk taking Risk taking is another dimension of intrapreneurship and is a very important property of entrepreneurship. 7-24 and technologies in production as part of organizational innovativeness. 1989. Risk taking can refer to the quick pursuit of opportunities. Khandwalla (1977) considers risk taking to be a defining element of entrepreneurial management. 2003 . . This dimension has strategic and organizational change connotations and includes a redefinition of the business concept. While there is an argument for a possible strong association of risk taking with other intrapreneurship dimensions. but separate from. and in contrast to previous intrapreneurship research. risk taking has been viewed as a fundamental element of the entrepreneur and entrepreneurship (Knight. Mintzberg (1973) views risk taking and decisive action catalyzed by a strong leader as elements of the entrepreneurial mode. as the possibility of loss. may be viewed as an inherent characteristic of innovativeness. 1993). other dimensions. and refers to . (1995) believe the organizational imperative to continual renewal of its businesses and achieving adaptability and flexibility as crucial characteristics of an entrepreneurial 17 . produce and deliver its products or services . who first developed the term entrepreneur and defined this as a person who bears risk of profit or loss. Number 1 . the product/service innovativeness dimension is differentiated from the process innovativeness dimension. Muzyka et al. 1991) and experimentation (Stopford and Baden-Fuller. Zahra (1993) included product innovation and technological entrepreneurship as innovative aspects of manufacturing firms. Lumpkin. 1997. in terms of making large. . skills and artifacts that are used by the firm to develop. Risk. p. new business formation. Both approaches to the intrapreneurship classification discussed above (the entrepreneurial orientation approach and the corporate entrepreneurship approach) consider both product/service innovativeness and technological innovativeness as pertaining to a similar innovativeness dimension. reorganization. (it) can be embodied in people. On the basis of this research. Schumpeter. 1997. 1996). (1997) feel that entrepreneurial strategy reflects of a bold. 1998). bold decisions in the face of uncertainty. Vesper (1984) views new strategic direction (significant departure from corporate strategy) as being a part of intrapreneurship. selfrenewal can be considered an important dimension of intrapreneurship. 1994) have been considered characteristic of firm level entrepreneurship. 1990. 1997) have long distinguished between product-related innovation (product innovation) and technology-related innovation (process innovation). Sharma and Chrisman. Hisrich and Peters. 1998). 1999). According to this distinction. researchers of strategic innovation and change (see Tushman and Anderson. knowhow. materials. Hisrich. McClelland. and the introduction of system-wide changes for innovation (Zahra. Self-renewal The self-renewal dimension reflects the transformation of organizations through the renewal of the key ideas on which the organizations are built (Guth and Ginsberg. The introduction of new products can be distinguished from the introduction of new elements into the organization’s production process (Damanpour. in past research (Covin and Slevin. 1991. the ensemble of theoretical and practical knowledge. 1986. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . opportunity-seeking style with elements of risk taking and experimentation. Thus. Stopford and Baden-Fuller (1994) view activities associated with the renewal of existing organizations as an element of intrapreneurship. 1921. and in physical processes (Burgelman and Rosenbloom. Zahra. 1996) risk taking has been considered a distinctive characteristic or dimension of entrepreneurship in existing firms. directive. corporation. boldness in pursuing opportunities (Covin and Slevin. 1934. fast commitment of resources and bold actions (Lumpkin and Dess. Technology can be distinguished from actual products and services by its relation to the process of production. risk taking can be viewed as a dimension of intrapreneurship that is related. facilities. 1961. Dess et al. 273). and aggressive or proactive actions of existing firms. Lumpkin and Dess. Since Cantillon (1734). .

Stopford and Baden-Fuller’s (1994) frame-breaking change type is congruent with this dimension. 1989. competitive aggressiveness is associated with an aggressive organizational relationship to its competitors. and action taken. 1983. The self-renewal dimension emphasizes strategy reformulation. 1997) have not distinguished between competitive aggressiveness and proactiveness. Proactiveness includes pioneering and initiative taking that is reflected in the orientations and activities of top management. p. 631). Guth and Ginsberg. Most researchers who follow the entrepreneurial orientation approach (Miller and Friesen. For the new ventures dimension. 1996). 1996). Covin and Slevin (1991) feel that the entrepreneurial posture is partly reflected in the firm’s tendency to aggressively compete with industry rivals. 1989. emphasis is on formation of new autonomous or semi-autonomous entities such as units and firms. Lumpkin and Dess. such differentiation is due to the fact that proactiveness relates to pioneering in seizing market opportunities. As noted by Lumpkin and Dess (1996. 1997. proactiveness and competitive aggressiveness can be considered two distinct dimensions of organizational level entrepreneurship. The concept of proactiveness: . Number 1 . Covin and Slevin. operating technologies.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. The proactiveness dimension reflects top management orientation for pioneering and initiative taking. The risk-taking dimension emphasizes the possibility of loss in taking bold actions quickly and committing resources in the pursuit of new opportunities. 1996) as a part of entrepreneurial orientation. and administrative techniques (Covin and Slevin. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . but developed predominantly as a characteristic of the individual as opposed to the firm. Competitive aggressiveness The future orientation of proactiveness is expressed in anticipation of. 1986. Lumpkin and Dess. Lumpkin. 1991. The product/service innovativeness dimension emphasizes the creation of new products and services. 1991. Regardless. 1997) that are relevant for firm-level entrepreneurship. 1991. whereas 18 . The process innovativeness dimension refers to innovations in production procedures and techniques. This differentiation was also empirically supported. Zahra. 49). Autonomy. 1997. whereas scholars that follow the corporate entrepreneurship approach (Guth and Ginsberg. refers to the extent to which organizations attempt to lead rather than follow competitors in such key business areas as the introduction of new products or services. Zahra. In this respect. 1997) and Lumpkin (1998). 1990. 7-24 Proactiveness The proactiveness dimension is related to pioneering (Covin and Slevin. can be captured at the organizational level in the new ventures dimension in terms of the creation of new autonomous or semiautonomous units or firms. One dimension – autonomy – has been conceptualized in previous research as being somewhat distinct from the eight dimensions used in this study. 1986. 2003 . since they tend to vary independently. ‘‘Proactiveness is a response to opportunities. 1993) usually ignore these two intrapreneurship dimensions. reorganization and organizational change. . p. whereas competitive aggressiveness is a response to threats’’ (Lumpkin and Dess. researchers (Lumpkin and Dess. . Competitive aggressiveness The final dimension – competitive aggressiveness – refers to the firm’s propensity to challenge its competitors (Lumpkin and Dess. Knight. an important distinction needs to be made between the two dimensions. The new business dimension emphasizes the pursuit of and entering into new businesses within the existing organization that are related to the firm’s current products or markets. Covin and Covin (1990) view competitive aggressiveness as a managerial disposition expressed in an organizational willingness and desire to take on and dominate competitors. 1998) found that the two dimensions can be distinct. 1990. 1991) and initiative taking in pursuing new opportunities or entering new markets (Lumpkin and Dess. The eight-dimensional intrapreneurship concept These eight dimensions integrate previous categorizations (Covin and Slevin. Miller’s (1987) assertive strategy making is congruent with this dimension. Knight. 1996). The eight dimensions are somewhat distinct in terms of their activities and orientations (see Table III). 1996. on the basis of future needs (Venkatraman. which was previously seen (Lumpkin and Dess.

1993) Stopford and Baden-Fuller (1994) Muzyka et al. Number 1 . (1984) Vesper (1984) Kanter and Richardson (1991) Stopford and Baden-Fuller (1994) Sharma and Chrisman (1999) Rule and Irvin (1988) Zahra (1991) Stopford and Baden-Fuller (1994) Schollhammer (1982) Covin and Slevin (1991) Zahra (1993) Damanpour (1996) Burgelman and Rosenblom (1997) Knight (1997) Tushman and Anderson (1997) Schollhammer (1982) Covin and Slevin (1991) Zahra (1993) Damanpour (1996) Burgelman and Rosenblom (1997) Knight (1997) Tushman and Anderson (1997) Vesper (1984) Guth and Ginsberg (1990) Zahra (1991.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. 1997) Lumpkin (1998) Top management orientation for pioneering and initiative taking Covin and Slevin (1986. reorganization and organizational change Risk taking Possibility of loss related to quickness in Mintzberg (1973) taking bold actions and committing resources Khandwalla (1977) in the pursuit of new opportunities Miles and Snow (1978) Covin and Slevin (1986. 1997) Knight (1997) Lumpkin (1998) Proactiveness Competitive aggressiveness Aggressive posturing towards competitors 19 . 1997) Dess et al. 1991) Miller (1987) Covin and Covin (1990) Lumpkin and Dess (1996. (1996) Lumpkin and Dess (1996. (1997) Lumpkin (1998) Covin and Slevin (1986. 7-24 Table III Intrapreneurship dimensions Dimension New ventures Definition Creation of new autonomous or semiautonomous units or firms Theoretical grounds Schollhammer (1981) Hisrich and Peters (1984) MacMillan et al. 1991) Stopford and Baden-Fuller (1994) Dess et al. 1989. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . (1995) Sharma and Chrisman (1999) New businesses Pursuit of and entering into new businesses related to current products or markets Product/service innovativeness Creation of new products and services Process innovativeness Innovations in production procedures and techniques Self-renewal Strategy reformulation. 1991) Venkatraman (1989) Stopford and Baden-Fuller (1994) Lumpkin and Dess (1996. 2003 .

Intrapreneurship is more precisely defined by referring to emergent behavioral intentions and behaviors that are related to departures from the customary ways of doing business in existing organizations. the dimensions cannot only be different from each other. 1988). On the other hand. 1998) that support this notion. Lumpkin. In some ways intrapreneurship can operate in the area of diversification (changes is diversification focus towards new product/market unrelated businesses). Conclusion Intrapreneurship (i. self-renewal. and organizational innovation) revealing intrapreneurship similarities and differences to other concepts. 1997. the intrapreneurship dimensions may in fact be differentiated from each other. The eight dimensions can also pertain to the same concept of intrapreneurship in terms of the Schumpeterian innovation concept. This research contributes to the theory of intrapreneurship by clarifying the intrapreneurship concept. structures. and at the same time similar enough (correlated – convergent). new businesses. administrative techniques and technologies for performing organizational functions. who suggested that dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation might vary independently. or operations into new directions. but that they also co-vary. markets. to pertain to the same construct. and methods of dealing with competitors. Intrapreneurship is now developed as a more complete integrative concept based on two predominant streams in previous theory (entrepreneurial orientation and corporate entrepreneurship) that span the boundaries of entrepreneurship and strategic management .. In comparison to organizational innovation. since it includes non-product-market-related emergent activities and does not have relatedness. 7-24 emphasizes the firm’s aggressive posturing towards competitors. Number 1 . but also related. yet related elements. in the frame of Lumpkin and Dess (1996). organizational memory and routines. the creation of new ventures is a key distinctive characteristic of intrapreneurship. Hence. thereby forming the basis of intrapreneurship.Clarifying the intrapreneurship concept Bostjan Antoncic and Robert D. intrapreneurship is distinct from the concepts of diversification and capabilities. and in the light of recent empirical research (Lumpkin and Dess. 1998. process innovativeness. capabilities (emergence of organizational innovative capabilities). may be seen as innovations in the broadest sense. Hisrich Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Volume 10 . entrepreneurial capability was equated to creativity and innovation in established corporations (Rule and Irwin. We propose that intrapreneurship should be viewed as a multidimensional concept with eight distinctive. In contrast to organizational learning. From these two perspectives. including the development or enhancement of old and new products and services.e. entrepreneurship in existing organizations) is an important area of 20 inquiry in entrepreneurship research. Stetz et al. organizational learning (creation of disruptions as a part of the learning process). proactiveness. orientations. It is our opinion that intrapreneurship should be viewed. technologies. as an essentially activity-based or activity-oriented concept that operates at the organizational boundary and stretches current organizational products and services. The intrapreneurship concept is now more clearly positioned in the management literature (contrasted with other similar management concepts. Therefore. risk taking. following the proposed definition. By centering future research around this core definition the intrapreneurship theory can be further developed and strengthened. (1998) found that firm-level entrepreneurship dimensions not only show distinctiveness. organization. Indeed. Stetz et al. capabilities. product/service innovativeness. intrapreneurship is not limited to building knowledge base. a building block of entrepreneurship. coherence and synergy as central focuses. as well as changes in strategy. norms. the intrapreneurship construct can be derived on the basis of the concept composed of the eight dimensions that are distinctive enough (discriminant) not to be redundant. and organizational innovation (creation of new combinations in production and support activities). organizational learning. The pursuit of creative or new solutions to challenges confronting the firm. and competitive aggressiveness) should show both convergent and discriminant validity. 2003 . A refined intrapreneurship construct that includes eight dimensions (new ventures. such as diversification strategy.

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