Dr Teun Wolters: Intrapreneurship and education

Modern economies highly depend on entrepreneurship. Whether the latter takes place, can be found out by measuring annual numbers of young firms and start-ups per head of population. However, entrepreneurial behaviour is also present in existing companies. This is, what is called, ‘intrapreneurship’. 

In the Netherlands there is a high degree of intrapreneurship. Moreover, research has shown (ESB 19 Aug. 2011, p. 477) that Dutch intrapreneurs tend to be more innovative and growth-oriented than independent entrepreneurs. 

It is important to highlight how significant intrapreneurship is. For instance, Ernst & Young has attempted to answer the following questions: How do companies fan the flames of innovation by tapping into the creativity of their existing employees? What are some practical strategies to foster a culture of innovation from within? I will not repeat what E&Y’s website was telling, except that entrepreneurship should be institutionalised within companies so as to become an inseparable part of a company’s operations.

Intrapreneurship is closely related to learning and knowledge management, and last but not least, to innovation management. It is also influenced by the perennial tension between exploitation (based on existing production processes) and exploration of new technologies and market opportunities. Wittenborg’s interest in ‘enterprise technology’ as part of its enhanced curriculum can be easily linked with this most relevant discussion on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Dr Teun Wolters

WUP 27/03/2012