intrapreneurs (intrapreneurship)

Intrapreneurs are internal employees who use entrepreneurial skills and thinking to seek out initiatives that could benefit the organization financially.

An intrapreneur is an employee who is given the authority and support to create a new product without having to be concerned about whether or not the product will actually become a source of revenue for the company. Unlike an entrepreneur, who faces personal risk when a product fails to produce revenue, an intrepreneur will continue to receive a salary even if the product fails to make it to production.

A large organization can be challenged to identify and encourage employees whose business skills and creative abilities make them good candidates to take on entrepreneurial roles within the company, yet still be content to remain employees. Some companies have dedicated research and development (R&D) departments, whose intrapreneurial employees are tasked with exploring ideas that will help the company stay competitive. Other businesses embrace the idea of continuous improvement, a concept borrowed from manufacturing that encourages employees in research, design, sales and production to work as a team. Many successful IT startups foster a culture of intrapreneurship informally by allowing employees to pursue their own technical interests during work hours (a concept known as 20 percent time) or more formally, by sponsoring social coding events known as hackathons.


This was first published in December 2013

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