Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization.
In 1992, The American Heritage Dictionary acknowledged the popular use of a new word, intrapreneur, to mean "A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation". Intrapreneurship is now known as the practice of a corporate management style that integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches, as well as the reward and motivational techniques, that are more traditionally thought of as being the province of entrepreneurship.
The first written use of the terms ‘intrapreneur’, ‘intrapreneuring,’ and ‘intrapreneurship’ date from a paper written in 1978 by Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot. Later the term was credited to Gifford Pinchot III by Norman Macrae in the April 17, 1982 issue of The Economist. The first formal academic case study of corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship was published in June 1982, as a Master's in Management thesis, by Howard Edward Haller, on the intrapreneurial creation of PR1ME Leasing within PR1ME Computer Inc. (from 1977 to 1981). This academic research was later published as a case study by VDM Verlag as Intrapreneurship Success:A PR1ME Example by Howard Edward Haller, Ph.D. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language included the term 'intrapreneur' in its 3rd 1992 Edition, and also credited Gifford Pinchot III as the originator of the concept. The term "intrapreneurship" was used in the popular media first in February 1985 by TIME magazine article "Here come the Intrapreneurs" and then the same year in another major popular publication was in a quote by Steve Jobs, Apple Computer’s Chairman, in an interview in the September 1985 Newsweek article, where he shared, “The Macintosh team was what is commonly known as intrapreneurship;only a few years before the term was coined—a group of people going, in essence, back to the garage, but in a large company."
"Intrapreneurship refers to employee initiatives in organizations to undertake something new, without being asked to do so."  Hence, the intrapreneur focuses on innovation and creativity, and transforms an idea into a profitable venture, while operating within the organizational environment. Thus, intrapreneurs are Inside entrepreneurs who follow the goal of the organization. Intrapreneurship is an example of motivation through job design, either formally or informally. (See also Corporate Social Entrepreneurship: intrapreneurship within the firm which is driven to produce social capital in addition to economic capital.) Employees, such as marketing executives or perhaps those engaged in a special project within a larger firm, are encouraged to behave as entrepreneurs, even though they have the resources, capabilities and security of the larger firm to draw upon. Capturing a little of the dynamic nature of entrepreneurial management (trying things until successful, learning from failures, attempting to conserve resources, etc.) adds to the potential of an otherwise static organization, without exposing those employees to the risks or accountability normally associated with entrepreneurial failure.
One of the most well-known examples of intrapreneurship is the "Skunk Works" group at Lockheed Martin. The group was originally named after a reference in a cartoon, and was first brought together in 1943 to build the P-80 fighter jet. Because the project was to eventually become a part of the war effort, the project was internally protected and secretive. Kelly Johnson, later famous for Kelly's 14 rules of intrapreneurship, was the director of this group.
Another example could be 3M, who encourage many projects within the company. They give certain freedom to employees to create their own projects, and they even give them funds to use for these projects. (In the days of its founders, HP used to have similar policies and just such an innovation-friendly atmosphere and intrapreneurial reputation.) Besides 3M, Intel also has a tradition of implementing intrapreneurship. Google is also known to be intrapreneur friendly, allowing their employees to spend up to 20% of their time to pursue projects of their choice.
- Pinchot, Gifford & Pinchot, Elizabeth (Fall 1978) Intra-Corporate Entreprenuership Tarrytown School for Entrepreneurs
- Mccrae, Norman (April 17, 1982) Intrapreneurial Now The Economist
- 1992 Intrapreneur The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton
- ? (September 30, 1985) [Jobs talks about his Rise and Fall] Newsweek Magazine
- Intrapreneurship Conceptualizing entrepreneurial employee behaviour. http://www.entrepreneurship-sme.eu/pdf-ez/H200802.pdf
- Kotler, P., Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning and Control, 13th edition, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 2009.
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- Intrapreneurship - Small Business Notes