9 March 2018 from 14:30 to 15:30

PhD Defence Werner Liebregts

Hidden entrepreneurship: Multilevel analyses of the determinants and consequences of entrepreneurial employee activity

This dissertation aims to contribute to the fast-growing field of entrepreneurship research. With entrepreneurship one usually refers to activities by individuals running a business for own risk and reward (Jensen & Meckling, 1976; Knight, 1921). This, however, neglects the discovery, evaluation and exploitation of opportunities by individuals employed at established firms (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). Instead, we follow Sharma & Chrisman (1999) as to their view on entrepreneurship – that is, “acts … that occur within or outside an existing organization” (p. 17) – and consider both intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship as part of the overall entrepreneurial activity in society. Intrapreneurship is a form of bottom-up, employee-driven renewal or innovation, which is typically underemphasized in corporate entrepreneurship and strategic management research.

The notion that employees can also act entrepreneurial by creating new combinations from existing resources has already been put forward in seminal work by Joseph Schumpeter (Schumpeter, 1911; 1934; 1942), and many others since then (e.g., Hellmann, 2007; Pinchot, 1985). Although many studies highlight the importance of entrepreneurship inside established organizations (e.g., Antoncic & Hisrich, 2001; Carrier, 1994), the extant literature lacks multilevel analyses of its determinants or consequences (Shepherd, 2011), let alone in a unified framework (Bjørnskov & Foss, 2016). Thus far, research mainly focused on the (macro-level) determinants and consequences of independent types of entrepreneurship (e.g., Arin et al., 2015; Valdez & Richardson, 2013).

This is mainly due to a prolonged lack of internationally comparative data on intrapreneurship, a problem that has recently been solved by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Some of their latest adult population surveys contain a measure of what they coined Entrepreneurial Employee Activity (EEA), next to their commonly used measure of nascent entrepreneurship and young business ownership, i.e. Total (early-stage) Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA), and of a subgroup of innovative entrepreneurs (TEAinnov). By having combined these GEM data with already available data on countries' institutions and economic performance, we are able to answer the main research question of this dissertation:

What are key institutional determinants and the economic consequences of two types of entrepreneurial activity in society, notably entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship?

Hence, we sought to find an answer to how the institutional context channels people into different types of entrepreneurial activity, which, in turn, leads to different economic growth patterns (e.g., Baumol & Strom, 2007; Bowen & De Clercq, 2008). This is a derivative of William Baumol’s notion stating that entrepreneurial individuals allocate themselves across different types of entrepreneurial activity in society. Whereas Baumol (1990) distinguishes between productive, unproductive and destructive forms of entrepreneurship, we focused on entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship as two different modes of opportunity exploitation. We argued that both types of entrepreneurial activity play an important role in commercializing new knowledge. Still, one of these types of entrepreneurial activity may prove more productive for society than the other, primarily depending on the institutional framework that these activities are subject to (Bjørnskov & Foss, 2013; 2016; Boettke & Coyne, 2009).


Start date and time
9 March 2018 14:30
End date and time
9 March 2018 15:30
PhD supervisor(s)
Erik Stam
Niels Bosma