Intrapreneurship Research

Dr Jo North, our Managing Director, successfully completed her doctoral research on intrapreneurship in 2016. Here is the abstract from her thesis. Please contact us if you'd like to know more.





The motivation for this study is to surface a new perspective of intrapreneurship that adds value to organisations and their intrapreneur employees by demonstrating a measurable correlation between some of the key attributes for intrapreneurship at the individual level from the literature and outcome benefits for the organisation. The purpose of so doing is to begin the early stages of a process of wider academic debate on the commercial impact of intrapreneurship, so that organisations will become better informed, based on evidence, of the importance of individual intrapreneurs to overall organisational success.

Because organisations are often budget-constrained and highly conscious of return-on-investment for any activities, the case can be made more persuasively to the corporate audience if potential commercial benefits of better understanding and developing individual intrapreneurs are considered. The literature does not link intrapreneurial behaviour at the individual level with measurable positive outcomes by the individual for the employing organisation.

The major deliverable of this study is the design of a new measure of individual intrapreneurial outcomes. The methodology adapted is a quantitative study through a survey of 248 industrialists. SEM is applied and demonstrates that the hypothesised intrapreneurial outcomes measure has statistical integrity. In addition, Exploratory Factor analysis is an effective means of deriving a data-driven index of Intrapreneurship from the Intrapreneurial Outcomes measured in the questionnaire. SEM and Exploratory Factor Analysis are used to provide both theory-driven and data-driven perspectives. Given the similarity between the indices, no one single index stands out as providing a superior measurement of intrapreneurship above the others, however an index based on an 11-item factor analysis is presented as the proposed measure of Individual Intrapreneurial Outcomes.

The measure presented is then used to show how attributes often associated with successful individual intrapreneurs in the literature correlate with positive organisational outcomes generated by those individuals. These attributes are personality, tested via the Big Five Personality Questionnaire, self-perceptions of emotional intelligence, assessed by Schutte et al’s (1998) SSEIT Inventory of emotional intelligence and perceptions of innovation climate, measured via the Dolphin Index.

Three of the Big Five inventory personality traits – neuroticism, extraversion and openness – are statistically significant at the 99% level, whilst agreeableness and conscientiousness have little association with intrapreneurship. Self-perception of emotional intelligence, as measured by SSEIT, is positively and statistically significantly correlated with the new derived Intrapreneurial Outcome measure which supports the hypothesis that the greater the individual’s self- perceptions of emotional intelligence, the greater the Intrapreneurial Outcome.

Innovation climate dimensions that are most associated with intrapreneurship are dynamism, risk taking, idea proliferation and idea support and those that are less so are playfulness and stress. The implications of this study are that the new measure of intrapreneurial outcomes is a useful tool that can be used to correlate other behavioural, trait and perception inventories to begin to create an enhanced understanding of the key attributes of successful individual intrapreneurship linked to business performance outcomes generated by intrapreneurial individuals.

Some limitations of this study are that the dataset is based on self-reports from respondents, and the sample composition is not designed to be specifically representative of the working population. However, the sample size is adequate for informative conclusions to be drawn from the dataset based on the SEM and EFA literature, and the sample composition does provide a rich and varied dataset from people actively engaged in employment.

Study of exogenous and industry-specific factors are outside the scope of this research because it is the intention of this study is to derive a generically-applicable measure of individual intrapreneurial outcome that can be used at different times and in different organisations. This study makes the following contributions to the intrapreneurship literature: the benefits of correlating key attributes of successful individual intrapreneurs to positive organisational outcomes are identified, and measurement of these outcomes by individuals is shown to be a gap in the literature.

A new, generically applicable measure of individual intrapreneurial outcomes on a scale is proposed, correlations are identified between positive intrapreneurial outcomes at the organisational level and specific elements of personality, emotional intelligence and innovation climate. These resonate with some of the key themes within the intrapreneurship literature.