Change is normal in a healthy economy, and is intrinsically driven by continued acquisition of new knowledge – both scientific and otherwise (Drucker, 1985). Continued acceleration of knowledge attainment provides context for what is arguably the twenty-first century’s single most critical socioeconomic characteristic: rapid change and continuous disruption of the free market (Carlson and Wilmot, 2006). In this unstable landscape, even the most resilient and successful companies, despite applying sound business management principles, are not immune to gradual erosion of their positions of growth and dominance (Christensen and Raynor, 2003). The life span of the average organization is shrinking, and a mainstay of past generations – “lifetime employment” – is no longer the status quo (Carlson and Wilmot, 2006, pp. 34-35).
Employees who wish to become leaders in the twenty-first century must develop the capability to exploit opportunities generated by the external pace of change and turn those opportunities into growth avenues for their organizations. Employees who master this process, and adopt the behaviors that drive it, will find themselves highly desirable to employers and in possession of a new version of the lifetime employment guarantee that stems from continuously creating value for their organizations. By understanding the relationship between innovation and organizational growth, organizations can better cultivate and leverage the multifaceted role that intrapreneurs can play in understanding the market, delivering value to the customer and formulating strategy.
Many organizations do not have the human resource capacities needed to create new growth. Managers at most established organizations have focused by necessity mainly on current operations. Doing this allows them and their employees to develop operational skills for solving problems related primarily to quality and cost-control, or to process implementation – but not for starting new growth areas (Christensen and Raynor, 2003, p. 179). While managers’ current responsibilities are important, this workload draws them away from focusing on new opportunities for the sake of monitoring current ones. The problems encountered and skills required for intrapreneurial action are very different from those needed to conduct “business as usual” operations; however, the capacity and skillset is critical to develop so that the organization as a whole can experience long-term growth. Therefore, organizations need intrapreneurial leaders who have learned and practiced these skills through experience – leaders who demonstrate not only a deep knowledge of their market and how to create new customer value, but also a sustained commitment to turning that knowledge into a real source of growth for their organization. Fortunately, there is incentive for both organizations and employees to progress in this direction.
Organizations will benefit from the longevity provided by new growth if they make efforts to promote and foster intrapreneurial behavior by their employees and managers. Managers and employees, in turn, will benefit by becoming leaders who find themselves more and more employable, as organizations shift to hiring people who possess intrapreneurial skills. The significant value here is that innovation facilitated by intrapreneurs practically enhances organizational growth overall. The result is a future of growth and opportunity for both individuals and organizations alike, in which both the knowledge and the passion of intrapreneurial leadership light the way through the unfamiliar business environment of the twenty-first century.
Rivera, M.J. (2017), "Leveraging innovation and intrapreneurship as a source for organizational growth", International Journal of Innovation Science, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 137-152. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJIS-12-2016-0057
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