Managing Organizational Networks to Encourage Intrapreneurial Behavior

Master Thesis Supervision

Network

The worldwide economic downturn that began in 2008 represented a strategic game changer for most organizations. Severe resource constraints and unpredictable market conditions created significant challenges for organizational survival, let alone growth through innovation and venturing activities. Now, eight years later, firms do not only struggle with the long-term effects of the financial crisis but have to constantly fend off start-ups that challenge the status quo. In order to survive in a competitive landscape characterized by a lack of resources, high uncertainty, and fierce competition, firms have to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. Strategic Entrepreneurship (SE), which can be defined as “a long- term view of value creation that results from simultaneously engaging in opportunity-seeking (entrepreneurship) and advantage-seeking (strategic management) behaviors” (Hitt, Ireland, Sirmon, & Trahms, 2011: 70) is, therefore, more important than ever and a clear understanding of the SE process is a vital driver of firm success.In order to implement a successful entrepreneurial strategy, companies increasingly experiment with different organizational structures to become more agile and responsive. Examples are the Dutch bank ING, which recently copied the organizational structure of Spotify (which consists of loosely coupled, autonomous teams) and the telecommunications company KPN who works with scrum teams. Whatever approach they take, these companies try to create a culture in which employees are encouraged to behave entrepreneurially: to be proactive, to be creative and to be willing to take the risk of pursuing innovative ideas.

In order to implement a successful entrepreneurial strategy, companies increasingly experiment with different organizational structures to become more agile and responsive. Examples are the Dutch bank ING, which recently copied the organizational structure of Spotify (which consists of loosely coupled, autonomous teams) and the telecommunications company KPN who works with scrum teams. Whatever approach they take, these companies try to create a culture in which employees are encouraged to behave entrepreneurially: to be proactive, to be creative and to be willing to take the risk of pursuing innovative ideas.

While past models of strategic entrepreneurship have focused on individual attributes (such as personal skills and experience) or the organizational context (such as management support or performance management), scholars increasingly recognize the importance of the relationships that tie employees together: their social network (Hollenbeck & Jamieson, 2015). Research shows that social capital — the “sum of actual and potential resources embedded within, available through, and derived from the network of relationships possessed by individuals or social units” (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998: 243)— strongly influence the generation and the implementation of ideas (Baer, Evans, Oldham, & Boasso, 2015; Burt, 2005).

If you choose this research theme you will study the ways in which a company can manage their organizational networks to encourage intrapreneurial behavior. You will learn how to conduct a social network analysis at a company and to use this analysis to examine the effect of people’s network positions on their behavior. In doing so, you will develop a fine-grained understanding of social capital, which is an important element of any entrepreneurial strategy (Hitt, Ireland, Sirmon, & Trahms, 2011; Ireland, Hitt, & Sirmon, 2003). Moreover, you will contribute to a highly relevant research domain since more and more scholars call for studies that examine the role of social relationships in corporate entrepreneurship (Gedajlovic, Honig, Moore, Payne, & Wright, 2013; Hayton & Kelley, 2006; Kuratko, Hornsby, & Hayton, 2015)

Example Research Questions

  • How can managers change the structure of their firms’ organizational networks in order to promote entrepreneurial behavior? -In what way do specific HR practices (e.g., recruitment, selection, training, compensation, and evaluation systems) develop and motivate corporate entrepreneurial behavior?
  • What are the cross-cultural issues related to organizational networks and what are their effects on corporate entrepreneurial behavior?
  • How can managers change the organizational context to encourage networking behavior?

Relevant Literature

  • Baer, M., Evans, K., Oldham, G. R., & Boasso, A. 2015. The Social Network Side of Individual Innovation: A Meta-Analysis and Path-Analytic Integration. Organizational Psychology Review, 5(3): 191–223.
  • Burt, R. S. 2005. Brokerage and Closure. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Gedajlovic, E., Honig, B., Moore, C. B., Payne, G. T., & Wright, M. 2013. Social Capital and Entrepreneurship: A Schema and Research Agenda. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 37(3): 455–478.
  • Hayton, J. C., & Kelley, D. J. 2006. A Competency-Based Framework for Promoting Corporate Entrepreneurship. Human Resource Management, 45(3): 295–308.
  • Hitt, M. A., Ireland, R. D., Sirmon, D. G., & Trahms, C. A. 2011. Strategic Entrepreneurship: Creating Value for Individuals, Organizations, and Society. Academy of Management Perspectives, 25(2): 57–75.
  • Hollenbeck, J. R., & Jamieson, B. B. 2015. Human Capital, Social Capital, and Social Network Analysis: Implications for Strategic Human Resource Management. Academy of Management Perspectives, 29(3): 370–385.
  • Ireland, R. D., Hitt, M. A., & Sirmon, D. G. 2003. A Model of Strategic Entrepreneurship: The Construct and its Dimensions. Journal of Management, 29(6): 963–989.
  • Kuratko, D. F., Hornsby, J. S., & Hayton, J. 2015. Corporate Entrepreneurship: The Innovative Challenge for a New Global Economic Reality. Small Business Economics, 45(2): 245–253.
  • Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. 1998. Social Capital, Intellectual Capital and the Organizational Advantage. Academy of Management Review, 23(2): 242–266.