Four models of corporate entrepreneurship

Students researching models of corporate entrepreneurship

Opportunist, enabler, advocate and producer are the four models of corporate entrepreneurship that Robert C. Wolcott and Michael J. Lippitz discuss in ‘Grow from Within’.

Mapping the models on two dimensions, viz. organisational ownership (ranging from diffused to focused) and resource authority (ad hoc to dedicated), the authors find that all companies begin as opportunists.

The Opportunist

However, the opportunist model works well only in trusting corporate cultures that are open to experimentation and that have diverse social networks behind the official hierarchy. “There need to be multiple executives who can say yes to a new business concept. Without that type of environment, good ideas can easily fall through organisation cracks or receive insufficient funding to prove feasible”, say Wolcott and Lippitz.

The Enabler

In contrast to the opportunist model of diffused ownership and ad hoc resource allocation, the enabler model has dedicated resources. “Early stages of new business conceptions are explicitly supported, encouraged and often strategically channeled, with a promise of serious management attention to those concepts that look promising.” But the enabler model is not only about allocating capital for corporate entrepreneurship, it is also about personal development and executive engagement.

The Advocate

In the third model - the advocate (with focused ownership and ad hoc resource allocation) - a company assigns organisational ownership for driving the creation of new businesses to a designated corporate-level group, but it intentionally provides the group with only a modest budget. Advocate organisations act as evangelists and innovation experts, facilitating corporate entrepreneurship in conjunction with business units which must demonstrate their commitment to new business developments by paying most of the bills, as the authors note.

The Producer

The fourth model - the producer - with focused ownership and dedicated resources, aims to protect emerging projects from turf battles, to encourage cross-unit collaboration, to build potentially disruptive businesses, and to create pathways for executives to pursue careers outside their business units, Wolcott and Lippitz explain.


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