Promoting Corporate Entrepreneurship Through Innovation Units and Innovation Networks

Christian Pihl Nielsen & Jeppe Birk Marquard Pedersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The last decade has led to an increasing focus on entrepreneurial start-ups that challenge rigid incumbents. As organizational size and structures can raise significant barriers to induce entrepreneurial behavior, this presents an obstacle for companies seeking to innovate and renew themselves. As a response, the notion of corporate entrepreneurship has seen increasing prominence in literature as well as in practice for companies to achieve higher levels of profitability and competitive advantage. This has also led to the increasing formation of corporate innovation units and innovation networks that are prescribed as ways for companies to become more innovative.
Considering the relevance of corporate entrepreneurship in today’s environment, the purpose of this thesis is to gain an in-depth understanding of how companies are promoting corporate entrepreneurship through innovation units and innovation networks. In this, an interesting aspect is also how and to what extent the companies are measuring the outcomes. For this, a range of interviews were conducted with Danish industry professionals, who are leading innovation units in four different companies. Combined with secondary data, these interviews provided the foundation for a cross-case analysis that shed light on different promoters for corporate entrepreneurship. As 3 out of 4 cases also engage in innovation networks, interviews with two innovation network professionals were conducted to examine how innovation networks, often together with innovation units, seek to promote corporate entrepreneurship.
The main findings demonstrate that companies can indeed use innovation units and innovation networks to promote corporate entrepreneurship, as the innovation unit can act as a catalyst for the promoters of corporate entrepreneurship, and subsequently lead and facilitate entrepreneurial thinking throughout an organization. It was further found that integrating the innovation unit and organization into an innovation network can further promote corporate entrepreneurship, as innovation networks provide a secondary source of inspiration and resources.
Through a synthesis of relevant literature and collected data, this thesis puts forward a normative framework accentuating the important factors for companies, who seek to promote and measure corporate entrepreneurship. By paying attention to these factors and the holistic nature of corporate entrepreneurship, it is believed that companies can become more successful in promoting corporate entrepreneurship and subsequently survive in the dynamic marketplace.

EducationsCand.merc.smc Strategic Market Creation, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages144
SupervisorsHenrik Johannsen Duus