Designs for Corporate Entrepreneurship in Established Firms

by Robert Burgelman



Until recently, the Schumpeterian distinction between entrepreneurial and administrated economic activity could be considered adequate. However, in the light of the turbulence of recent industrial developments, this distinction loses much of its relevance. Large, established corporations and new, maturing firms alike are confronted with the problem of maintaining their growth, if not their existence, by exploiting to the fullest the unique resource combinations they have assembled. Increasingly, there is awareness that internal entrepreneurs are necessary for firms to achieve growth. The internal entrepreneur, like the external entrepreneur, enacts new opportunities and drives the development of new resource combinations or recombinations. As a result, new forms of economic organization, a broader array of arrangements, are necessary. In turn, new theories of the firm and a more nuance view of the role of hierarchies, contracts, and markets are required. The conceptual foundations of these theories are currently being laid in such fields as the economics of internal organization, agency theory, the theory of legal contracts, and theories of organization design and change. Usually, practitioners are already ahead, experimenting with new organizational forms and arrangements. In the process, they generate new data and raise the basis for new research questions.

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