It is no secret that Zimbabwe’s economy symbolically put has been ailing and is still ailing showing signs and symptoms of a ‘sick’ economy. Customer propensity has decreased thereby affecting a business's profitability. The operating environment has become unfriendly for most companies with some giving up and closing shop. However, despite these challenges, there are companies that have been able to weather the storm and push forward against the opposing force of recession. Organisational dissection of these organisations reveals that corporate entrepreneurship is at the heart of this resistance. It seems they are operating in the context of chaos theory.
The concept of entrepreneurship was first established in the 1700s, and the meaning has evolved ever since. Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) viewed entrepreneurship as a force of "creative destruction”. Peter Drucker (1909-2005) took this idea further, describing the entrepreneur as someone who actually searches for change, responds to it, and exploits change as an opportunity. A quick look at changes in communications – from typewriters to personal computers to the Internet – illustrates these ideas.
- Entrepreneurship is the recognition and pursuit of opportunity without regard to the resources you currently control, with the confidence that you can succeed, with the flexibility to change course as necessary, and with the will to rebound from setbacks.
- A value creation process that involves the ability and desire to recognize and pursue an opportunity
- The key factor in the above definition is that entrepreneurs undertake opportunities regardless of the resources the entrepreneur currently controls.
- The concept of an entrepreneur is borrowed from the French word, entreprendre, “one who undertakes”
Corporate entrepreneurship/Intrapreneurship defined:
Corporate entrepreneurship refers to entrepreneurial/innovative activities that occur within an existing organisation. It is the process by which teams within an established company conceive, foster, launch and manage a new business that is distinct from the parent company but leverages the parent’s assets, market position, capabilities or other resources. It refers not only to the creation of new business ventures but also to other innovative activities and orientations such as the development of new products, services, technologies, administrative techniques, strategies, and competitive postures. Innovation is the process that provides added value and novelty to the business, its suppliers and customers through the development of new procedures, solutions, products, and services as well as new methods of commercialisation.
Innovation is the heart of entrepreneurship. Without innovation, there is no corporate entrepreneurship, regardless of the presence of the other dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation. Innovation is one of the most vital uses of shared organisational knowledge. Innovation takes place in businesses in the form of new products, new processes to create products and new administrative structures and routines to help the business operate efficiently and effectively. Organisations such as Econet, Fresh in a Box, Click n Pay, etc., have embedded corporate entrepreneurship in their cultures such that they have met some success because of innovative ways of providing services to consumers. Corporate entrepreneurship has allowed them to consistently create blue markets as is the case for Econet and because of this in all its subsidiaries, it has managed to attain competitive differentiation allowing it to stand out and enjoy first-mover advantages in most markets it operates in. This means that organisations that practice corporate entrepreneurship get to have large market share thereby allowing them some form of cushion with regards to profitability in an economy that is struggling.
It is noteworthy that these entrepreneurial organisations did not just get to be where they are by doing things the normal way. Instead, they have proactively sought to attract individuals with the following entrepreneurial behaviours in their organisation:
- Detection of opportunities
- Opportunity facilitation
- Motivated to pursue an opportunity
- Undertaking innovations
- Applying business acumen
- Transforming innovations into economic goods
- Principal objectives are profit and growth and will employ formal strategic management practices to achieve them.
In conclusion, organisations should embrace corporate entrepreneurship and make it the core of their operations if they are to survive the current economic woes. Corporate entrepreneurship provides a strategic thrust that enhances the competitive position and the strategic renewal of an existing business. It also leads to the prioritisation and promotion of innovation resulting in the alteration of the balance of competition within an industry. More so, it leads to the creation of entirely new industries through internal innovation which is crucial for large companies, enabling these organizations that are traditionally averse to risk-taking to innovate, driving leaders and teams toward an increased level of corporate enterprising and profitability.
Milton Jack is a Business Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
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