Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Understanding Intrapreneurship: A Process Model for the Logic of Action Used by Intrapreneurs

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

Understanding Intrapreneurship: A Process Model for the Logic of Action Used by Intrapreneurs

Article excerpt


This empirical study explores the logic of action used by intrapreneurs when undertaking internal ventures. The design of this qualitative study includes the identification of a sample of 59 internal ventures undertaken by 39 middle managers in 35 complex multidivisional organizations in Canada. The findings of this exploratory study indicate that intrapreneurs may indeed employ three different logics-authoritarian, emotional, and conciliatory-in the intrapreneurial process. Such logics depend on intrapreneurs' perceptions of their endeavors. Although some intrapreneurs used different logics in different projects, none of them changed the applied logic when undertaking a specific project.


Many researchers have explored decision-making as the core of the strategy formation process (Chakravarthy & White, 2002; Langley, Mintzberg, Pitcher, Posada, & Saint-Macary, 1995; Simon, 1947). Several models have been developed to describe decision-making, but little is understood about the corporate entrepreneurial process. Scholars tend to explain this process in terms of the differences in the cognitive procedures of intrapreneurs. However, the logics behind intrapreneurs' actions remain relatively unexplored (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Mintzberg, 1994).

This paper aims to identify intrapreneurs' underlying reasoning for their ventures by focusing on the procedures those managers use to develop projects. We will use the definition of managerial logic of action as the implicit relationship between the means and the ends that underlie the specific actions, policies, and activities of organizational members (Bacharach, Banberger, & McKinney, 2000).

In order to explore intrapreneurs' logics, we will first briefly review the entrepreneurial processes described in the literature. Next, we will present an analysis of the qualitative data, explaining how the conceptualization of logics can enrich the process literature. Finally, we will describe the logics of action that emerged from a process model of intrapreneurs' interactions.


The Entrepreneurial Process

Few writers use a strategic approach to the notion of entrepreneurship whereas many scholars advocate an "integration of strategic and entrepreneurial thinking" (Ireland, Camp, & Sexton, 2001, p. 480). Launching a new activity within an existing firm is an entrepreneurial attitude insofar as it involves innovation, proactiveness and risk-taking. These three dimensions allow one to assess a firm's entrepreneurial orientation (Miller, 1983). Stevenson and Jarillo (1990) suggested a definition that allows one to take into account these different behaviors and to highlight the strategic dimension of entrepreneurship. They define entrepreneurship as "the process by which individuals-either on their own or inside organizations-pursue opportunities without regards to the resources they currently control" (p. 23).

The entrepreneurial process includes all cognitive and behavioral steps from the initial conception of a rough business idea, or first behavior towards the realization of a new business activity, until the process is either terminated or has led to a business venture with regular sales.

Towards Understanding the Logics that Underpin Entrepreneurial Processes

According to Cunningham and Lischeron (1991), "An understanding of entrepreneurs and their ventures require criteria from each facet of the overall process: entrepreneurs' personal perspective, their ways of identifying opportunities, their methods of acting and managing, their mechanisms for adapting and reassessing" (p. 58). This means that, in order to understand the entrepreneurial process, scholars should understand the decision-making process that entrepreneurs use from the first idea (autonomous or mandated) until the assessment of the implementation of the new venture.

First of all, Barnard (1938) defined a decision as a matter of purpose, discrimination, and rational reasoning of strategic factors that regulate the relationship between the organization and the environment. …

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