Turn your employees into entrepreneurs

“Give them support, time and the freedom to make decisions”

Our knowledge society needs more than traditional entrepreneurs; it also needs employees with innovative dreams and new ideas. How do you encourage intrapreneurship within an organisation? A recent study conducted by the Flanders DC Knowledge Centre at Vlerick Business School analysed the entrepreneurial profile of employees in Flanders.

Larger, slower and less entrepreneurial

In our knowledge society it is crucial for organisations to quickly respond to changes on the market and challenges of their competitors. That is no simple feat: as an organisation grows, it becomes slower, less flexible, more burdened by red tape and as a result also less entrepreneurial. But intrapreneurship remains vital for the development of new products and services. An entrepreneurial spirit on the shop floor encourages constant improvement of internal processes such as administration, sales, production or marketing activities.

Devisers and planners

For this research by Flanders DC Knowledge Centre at Vlerick Business School, Professor Miguel Meuleman joined forces with Jana Deprez, Eva Cools and Mathias Cobben to analyse the entrepreneurial profile of more than 6,000 employees from a wide range of sectors, companies and organisations in Flanders. They sought employees who can come up with new ideas, promote them and ultimately implement them. “An innovative organisation needs more than creative souls and devisers; it also needs people who can plan, structure and organise. They ensure that innovative ideas do not remain on the drawing board, but are actually implemented,” explains Professor Meuleman of Vlerick Business School. 

Protecting employees

The GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) shows that Belgium and the Scandinavian countries score high in terms of intrapreneurship. Professor Miguel Meuleman of Vlerick Business School says the reason for this lies in our employment system. “Just like in Finland, Sweden and Denmark, we enjoy a high level of employment protection and social security. People with a safe job seek their challenges within their position instead of taking the risk of becoming self-employed entrepreneurs. In other countries people with an entrepreneurial profile will more easily consider setting up their own company.”

Sufficient time and freedom

An entrepreneurial business culture even encourages the least entrepreneurial profiles to adopt an innovative approach. It is important for employers and employees to join forces in creating this stimulating atmosphere. First of all, employees need to be given sufficient freedom to make their own decisions. Innovations can only be developed by employees who are given sufficient freedom of action, as well as their own responsibilities. Moreover, (financial) support and time are also a must. Overworked employees who cannot turn to their management will be less motivated to come up with new ideas or plans.

Source: Success factors for intrapreneurship in various types of organisations by the Flanders DC Knowledge Centre at Vlerick Business School. Research conducted by Professor Miguel Meuleman and researchers Eva Cools, Jana Deprez and Mathias Cobben at Vlerick Business School.  

Download the full article: "How do we stimulate the entrepreneur in the employee?"


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