Intrapreneurialism – How your employees can foster innovation and growth

The UK's economic growth could be boosted if large firms adopted the entrepreneurial spirit that drives so much value in start-ups and small firms, research finds.

According to findings from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), by encouraging a culture of ‘intrapreneurialism’, big businesses could help their employees adopt entrepreneurial behaviours that foster innovation and growth.

The buzzword ‘intrapreneurs’ was coined in the 1980s by management consultant Gifford Pinchot and is often used by organisations that recognise the need for new and innovative ideas.

Unlike entrepreneurs, who tend to run their own small start-up organisations, intrapreneurs usually work in larger organisations where they’re tasked with developing new ideas and concepts like an entrepreneur would.

In the first of a three part series of reports examining the people management factors that make entrepreneurial businesses so successful, the CIPD reveals that 37 per cent of employees would welcome the opportunity to take on an ‘intrapreneurial’ role within their organisation, but just 12 per cent of organisations encourage and facilitate such behaviour.

Given that the UK’s entrepreneurs have grown sales by an estimated 20 per cent year-on-year and that SMEs contribute 52 per cent of private sector gross value added to the UK economy, the CIPD is urging employers of all shapes and sizes to consider what they could gain by adopting a more entrepreneurial approach to business.

This could be by allowing intrapreneurs to thrive within their organisations or mirroring some of the other people management practices successful growing businesses tend to adopt.

Claire McCartney, research advisor at the CIPD says, ‘There’s no doubt that a successful business depends on innovative ideas and sound market strategy, but this report shows that good people management is crucial to the long term success of any business.

‘As start-up companies grow, it can be easy for the entrepreneurial spirit that made it so successful in the first place to wane, but the companies we’ve spoken to have proven that even the largest organisations can retain an innovative edge if they pay close attention to attracting, retaining, engaging and developing the right talent to live and breathe the values of the founders.’

Further reading on entrepreneurship

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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