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Entrepreneurship as corporate culture

Continuing the safari through the schools of entrepreneurship theory, this article explores entrepreneurship as corporate culture.

It is possible for organisations to behave entrepreneurially (Miller, Freisen, & Mintzberg, 1984; Schein, 1992).

Usually entrepreneurial organisations are small businesses in the start-up phase of their lifecycle (Miller & Friesen, 1984), however it is increasingly common for larger enterprises to desire to act entrepreneurially (Buchanan & Badham, 1999). They do so in order to become more sensitive to opportunity spotting within their environment, and to become more nimble in exploiting those opportunities.

Change management theory provides methods to analyse, plan and execute programmes to encourage certain organisational cultural traits in an organisation's workers, such as Bolman and Deal's (2008) Four Frames, or Stace and Dunphy's (2001) work on leadership styles.

When an organisation is said to have an entrepreneurial culture, what is really being said is that the organisation encourages out-of-the-box thinking in the development of new products, services and procedures, and has a tolerance to risk taking and failure (Takeuchi & Nonaka, 1986).

More and more, modern businesses are adopting flexible team-based structures, and this can allow certain parts of the organisation to be detached from the core bureaucracy and tasked with the responsibility of innovating, such as in the case of Honda (Takeuchi & Nonaka, 1986). In this case, the organisation may not have an entrepreneurial culture as a whole, but instead uses the strategy of intrepreneurship (Buchanan & Badham, 1999) to maintain a nimble response to opportunity. These business units benefit from the leadership and thinking of an entrepreneurial leader (McGrath & MacMillan, 2000).

Another common strategy embraced by technical companies such as Google and Hewlett Packard attempt to recruit the best and brightest engineers, and give them opportunities to innovate and be entrepreneurial craftsmen (Smith & Miner, 1983), but still work within an overall bureaucracy.

Read part six: The rise of the Entrepreneurial Leader

This is the part of a series of articles exploring the relationship between entrepreneurship and leadership, adapted from research I performed for my Master of Business.

The complete series is listed below:

  1. Is Entrepreneurship merely a special case of leadership?
  2. Entrepreneurship as a personality trait
  3. Entrepreneurship as a leadership style
  4. Entrepreneurship as an activity
  5. Entrepreneurship as a skill
  6. Entrepreneurship as corporate culture
  7. The rise of the Entrepreneurial Leader