Corporate Entrepreneurship – A Vintage Solution for our Very Modern Problems?

9 August 2018

The traditional understanding of entrepreneurship is primarily concerned with the start-up of new firms and risk-taking individuals using bright ideas to fuel big dreams. As a business term, however, it is centuries old and, over those years, has changed, expanded and deepened to encompass many more elements.

One of the first known uses of the term ‘entrepreneurship’, by Richard Cantillon (1680-1734), defines it as a person in “self-employment with an uncertain return”.

In the early 19th century, French economist Jean-Baptiste Say broadened the definition of entrepreneurship into including different types of activities, saying that it “shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield”.

The understanding of entrepreneurship broadened and deepened further in the 20th century, owing much to the work of economist Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s. The Austrian economist is seen as the intellectual father of the modern interpretation of the word and settled on a definition of the entrepreneur as “a person whose function it is to carry out new combinations [of resources]” (1946) that result in new products, processes, markets, sources of supply and re-organisation. Implication: entrepreneurship is at the heart of the evolutionary process in which existing services/structures are continuously reviewed and replaced.

The first expansion of entrepreneurship to a style of leadership is credited to Peterson & Berger in the early 1970s, whose scientific research into Corporate Entrepreneurship as a means of reacting to turbulent markets enhanced the definition from a person and activities to include skills and behaviours.

Further research went on to evidence the importance and impact of training and empowering specific people, i.e. managers, in order to gain and drive competitive advantage. Peter Drucker argued the case that innovation and entrepreneurship are essential in existing organisations, including private and public sector, as well as in society and the economy (1985). He suggested the following - “This defines entrepreneur and entrepreneurship - the entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

In Eliesha’s experience, including in excess of 40,000 delegate interventions last year, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial, value-creating processes have rapidly gained importance as part of the learning and development solutions we design and deliver. They are an accepted skill set, relevant to managers, irrespective of the size, age or type of their organisation. They are especially important in the context of complex change. For example, organisations need managers with the capability to respond to:

(i) the emerging experience economy and the expectation from customers for increased service value

(ii) an increasingly competitive landscape, driving the need for agility and to rapidly react to opportunity and manage change.

If these are not difficult enough challenges, there are also the following to consider:

Eliesha understands the changing business environment and complex challenges that managers have to navigate and risk manage, as part of their everyday practice and service delivery. This often negates the possibility of an individual coming up with the best solutions to complex problems. In fact, there is a transition occurring from the old paradigm in which leadership resided in a person or role, to a new one in which leadership is a collective process that is spread through a network of people.

Eliesha helps organisations and their people to face and manage appropriate responses to the dynamics of changing environments and increasing customer expectations. They need to be equipped with knowledge, skills and tools necessary to explore and enhance their product and service value. In order to successfully undertake this, managers require new skills and capabilities to adapt to change, create value and deliver value. Research studies repeatedly suggest that organisations should become more entrepreneurially oriented as a way to respond to these challenges.

Research evidence is persuasive in that entrepreneurial managers within organisations can create increased service value by analysing these needs and by implementing creative and innovative ideas in improved business solutions.

At Eliesha Training, we always prefer to work in a learning partnership with our clients, many of whom we have developed long-term, trusted relationships with over a number of years. That's why the first step is always an open-ended, informal consultation about your existing development activities and the long-term learning outcomes that you covet.

If you would like to arrange a meeting or phonecall such to explore how we can help you grow innovation, enhance productivity and boost employee engagement, please don't hesitate to contact us through our online form or the details below. | | 0191 282 2800

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