The rise of Intrapreneurs

Globalization, technological developments, the ease of transferability of ideas and mobility of people has resulted in a structural change in the world’s economy. Among other changes, industries have witnessed a shift away from larger firms, characterised by mass-scale production, towards an increasing number of smaller firms. Interestingly, in order to remain competitive, even large firms have seen a re-composition of their business units into smaller and innovation-centric units.

At the heart of these small and innovation-centric units is an ‘Intrapreneur’-someone who thinks like an entrepreneur but is an employee within an organization. An intrapreneur drives organisational change, feels liberated to experiment with creation of new products or processes, thinks ‘out of the box’, and is highly motivated by creation of innovation in the organisation.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) suggests that, for any organisation that wishes to build an innovation engine within it, must excel at operationalizing ideas from its energized people- its intrapreneurs, who are willing to do everything they can to fight off internal resistance without creating chaos. The HBR finds that in a firm with 5,000 employees, there are at least 250 natural innovators; of these at least 25 are great intrapreneurs who can build the next business for a firm.

According to Forbes, big companies need to nurture intraprenuership to survive. Big names like Google, 3M and Intel are well known for their efforts in encouraging intrapreneurship by allowing their employees to spend some proportion of their time on developing innovative ideas, unrelated to their regular tasks. Some of the examples of intrapreneurial business units, within organisations that were a roaring success include, Mac, iPhone, iPod inside Apple; Driverless cars, Google Glasses at Google; Play station from within Sony; Post-it Notes inside of 3M; Digital Light Processing Technology inside of Texas Instruments, and many more.

The benefits accrued as a result of intrapreneurial innovation are not limited to an organisation alone. They have a far reaching impact on the economy too. According to World Economic Forum report titled ‘The Human Capital Report 2016’, the Human Capital Index is positively correlated with gross national income (GNI) and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Therefore, economic gains from increased human capital can be fully realised only when players across all sectors employ them efficiently.

While the concept of intrapreneurs’ contribution in enhancing business value is still evolving in advanced countries, emerging economies are observing, learning and aiming at building a conducive environment, fast. In the case of UAE, government is making conscious and consistent efforts to develop itself into a knowledge and innovation rich economy by encouraging R&D and innovation in both the public and private sector. According to The Global Innovation Index 2017, UAE currently enjoys 3rd ranking among North African and Western Asian countries and 35th globally among 127 countries in terms of performance in the 2017 Innovation Index. In 2015, with current total investment in innovation estimated around AED14 billion, annually, of which AED7 billion are allocated for R&D, the UAE government envisages in its Vision 2021 to become amongst the most innovative nations in the world.

4 thoughts on “The rise of Intrapreneurs

  1. Very well written content from Shailesh Dash!, As What I’ve come across is “Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs vary in their level of focus” Whereas an entrepreneur envisions a company from start to finish, an intrapreneur has a much broader vision for an established company. Because the intrapreneur works on solving bigger issues within the business, he typically has more directly applicable skills for given tasks and takes more risks within the context of his job,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Once a German Poet Christian F Hebbel said “Nothing great in the world has ever been achieved without passion.” . Intrapreneurs have a passion for what they do and it will come across in their voice, body language and actions. Through their passion they can inspire others to join them in their journey. As the author and entrepreneur Steve Pavlina said, “Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you’re tremendously passionate about.”


  3. Great Views! But as far as I know, An intrapreneur thinks like an entrepreneur looking out for opportunities, which profit the organization. Intrapreneurship is a novel way of making organizations more profitable where imaginative employees entertain entrepreneurial thoughts. It is in the interest of an organization to encourage intrapreneurs.


  4. I see that Entrepreneurs exist to spot gaps and seize opportunities. As bigger organizations embrace change and disruption, they will naturally become more open to doing deals with fearless, creative, small businesses. If big companies start attracting and empowering more innovative executives, they give us more willing prospects to pitch to and partner with. Having people at the top of big businesses who actually have budgets for new ideas, projects and processes will be a huge opportunity for visionary entrepreneurs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s