Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Developing a Process Model of Intrapreneurial Systems: A Cognitive Mapping Approach

Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Developing a Process Model of Intrapreneurial Systems: A Cognitive Mapping Approach

Article excerpt

The practice of corporate entrepreneurship has become the focus of increasing attention from managers and academics alike as the ability to create innovation has assumed critical importance for firms competing in rapidly evolving industries (D'Aveni, 1994). Fostering intrapreneurial behaviors and practices has assumed prime importance in the grand strategies of many firms where creating innovation is perceived as an important means of establishing and maintaining competitive advantage as well as a method for initiating corporate renewal.

As late as 1991, however, research on corporate entrepreneurship was critiqued on the bases of weak theory development, the lack of causal research, and an over-reliance on individual variables to explain the phenomenon (Bygrave & Hofer, 1991; Guth & Ginsberg, 1991; Low & MacMillan, 1988; Wortman, 1987). In response to these critiques, there has been significant recent progress toward elaborating and testing models of corporate entrepreneuring. In an effort to stimulate theory development, the Strategic Management Journal devoted a special issue to corporate entrepreneurship in the summer of 1991. Although no specific models were elaborated in this issue, Guth and Ginsberg suggested a four-dimensional framework to guide research on corporate entrepreneurship. At about the same time as the SMJ special issue, Covin and Slevin (1991) published perhaps the most complete model of corporate entrepreneurship to date. Their model conceptualizes corporate entrepreneuring as a set of behaviors occurring at the organizational level. The behaviors include degree of top management risk taking, the extensiveness and frequency of product innovation, and the firm's propensity to "proactively compete with industry rivals." These behavioral tendencies are encapsulated within a variable that the authors call "entrepreneurial posture." Entrepreneurial posture is considered to influence firm performance directly and to be influenced by environmental characteristics, the business and mission strategies of the firm, and organizational variables such as resources and competencies, structure, culture, and top management values.

Empirical research in support of this model and others has begun to accumulate. These efforts tend to focus on cross-sectional, correlational data that are used to measure the effect of some combination of strategic, organizational, and environmental variables on entrepreneurial behaviors or outcomes.

Some of the strongest findings associate the environment with corporate entrepreneurship. In a seminal study of entrepreneurial and conservative firms, Miller and Friesen (1984) note a positive relationship between innovative activities and dynamic environments. Conversely, they report a negative relationship between entrepreneurial strategies and relatively benign or stable environments. Khandwalla (1987) finds that "opportunity-rich", dynamic environments provide a match with entrepreneurial goals and policies to produce risk-taking, innovation-directed behavior. Likewise, Utterback (1994) claims that dynamic environments stimulate firms to engage in entrepreneurial ventures in order to take advantage of emerging market opportunities and to pre-empt industry rivals. Covin and Slevin (1990) find that entrepreneurial ventures in emerging industries (characterized by high rates of change and uncertainty) are more successful than those initiated in more mature industries. Zahra (1993) finds that product innovation is associated with better financial performance in dynamic environments but is not associated with increased performance in hostile or static environments.

Regarding organizational characteristics, Burgelman (1984) has noted that organically structured venture teams are an effective way to institutionalize entrepreneurial activities. Slevin and Covin (1990) find that the combination of organic structure and an entrepreneurial strategic posture is associated with higher levels of performance than an entrepreneurial posture combined with a mechanistic structure. …

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