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Commentary on the latest HR issues and debates in the news, or at the cutting edge of Human Resource thinking. Read opinions from the profession’s thought leaders, and share your own views.


What lessons can organisations learn from today’s successful entrepreneurs and is it a good idea to encourage and develop intrapreneurs?

 3 expert opinions
Claire McCarthney profile image

Coined in the 1980s by management consultant Gifford Pinchot, intrapreneurs are often developed by organisations that recognise the need for new and innovative ideas. Intrapreneurs have been described as an ‘inside entrepreneur’, or an ‘entrepreneur within a large firm, who uses entrepreneurial skills without incurring the risks associated with those activities. But what of the business benefits and also the potential risks of developing intrapreneurs? First and foremost budding intrapreneurs bring with them their creativity and innovative ideas and solutions. Organisations that make intrapreneurship part of their brand are also able to attract and recruit the best like-minded talent. Often as organisations increase in size and structure, the creative and entrepreneurial outlets within the company diminish. But by overtly creating space for intrapreneurs within larger organisations they can keep hold of these very important entrepreneurial outlets. But what happens if intrapreneurs develop the appetite to become fully fledged entrepreneurs? The number of lawsuits involving spin off companies or business start-ups has increased, particularly in the US, over the past few years. This is now one of the hottest fields of employment law. If employees decide to spread their entrepreneurial wings, employers have a choice; they can treat the spin off as an adversarial competitor, or they can forge a business partnership with a new entity. Xerox, General Motors and Microsoft have all funded employee start-ups. In these cases, both sides have a vested interest in getting the new company off the ground and making it successful.      

Claire McCartney - Adviser Resourcing & Talent Planning - CIPD
Barney Ely

If a company wants to grow its profits then they need to offer a superior product or service in most markets that businesses operate in.    For companies to grow their profitability or performance in a difficult economic climate they cannot rely on their market, therefore they need to take market share from the competition.  The danger for organisations as they grow larger is that the recruitment process and methodology can become uniform. This can result in rigid person specifications that are based on safe technical skills that are designed to get the task done in the set out way. But they could limit free thinking, a different perspective, creativity and innovation.  The smallest things could give a significant competitive advantage and they come from people challenging the norm.      

Barney Ely - Director, Human Resources - Hays

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