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Is the sum more than the corporate entrepreneurship parts? the different effects of social capital on innovation, venturing, and renewal processes

By Henri Burgers, Justin Jansen, Frans Van den Bosch and Henk Volberda


Principal Topic \ud \ud Although corporate entrepreneurship is of vital importance for long-term firm survival and growth (Zahra and Covin, 1995), researchers still struggle with understanding how to manage corporate entrepreneurship activities. Corporate entrepreneurship consists of three parts: innovation, venturing, and renewal processes (Guth and Ginsberg, 1990). Innovation refers to the development of new products, venturing to the creation of new businesses, and renewal to redefining existing businesses (Sharma, and Chrisman, 1999; Verbeke et al., 2007). Although there are many studies focusing on one of these aspects (cf. Burgelman, 1985; Huff et al., 1992), it is very difficult to compare the outcomes of these studies due to differences in contexts, measures, and methodologies. This is a significant lack in our understanding of CE, as firms engage in all three aspects of CE, making it important to compare managerial and organizational antecedents of innovation, venturing and renewal processes. Because factors that may enhance venturing activities may simultaneously inhibit renewal activities. The limited studies that did empirically compare the individual dimensions (cf. Zahra, 1996; Zahra et al., 2000; Yiu and Lau, 2008; Yiu et al., 2007) generally failed to provide a systematic explanation for potential different effects of organizational antecedents on innovation, venturing, and renewal. \ud \ud With this study we aim to investigate the different effects of structural separation and social capital on corporate entrepreneurship activities. The access to existing and the development of new knowledge has been deemed of critical importance in CE-activities (Floyd and Wooldridge, 1999; Covin and Miles, 2007; Katila and Ahuja, 2002). Developing new knowledge can be facilitated by structurally separating corporate entrepreneurial units from mainstream units (cf. Burgelman, 1983; Hill and Rothaermel, 2003; O'Reilly and Tushman, 2004). Existing knowledge and resources are available through networks of social relationships, defined as social capital (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998; Yiu and Lau, 2008). Although social capital has primarily been studied at the organizational level, it might be equally important at top management level (Belliveau et al., 1996). \ud \ud However, little is known about the joint effects of structural separation and integrative mechanisms to provide access to social capital on corporate entrepreneurship. Could these integrative mechanisms for example connect the separated units to facilitate both knowledge creation and sharing? Do these effects differ for innovation, venturing, and renewal processes? Are the effects different for organizational versus top management team integration mechanisms? Corporate entrepreneurship activities have for example been suggested to take place at different levels. Whereas innovation is suggested to be a more bottom-up process, strategic renewal is a more top-down process (Floyd and Lane, 2000; Volberda et al., 2001). Corporate venturing is also a more bottom-up process, but due to the greater required resource commitments relative to innovation, it ventures need to be approved by top management (Burgelman, 1983). \ud \ud As such we will explore the following key research question in this paper: How do social capital and structural separation on organizational and TMT level differentially influence innovation, venturing, and renewal processes? \ud \ud \ud Methodology/Key Propositions \ud \ud We investigated our hypotheses on a final sample of 240 companies in a variety of industries in the Netherlands. All our measures were validated in previous studies. We targeted a second respondent in each firm to reduce problems with single-rater data (James et al., 1984). We separated the measurement of the independent and the dependent variables in two surveys to create a one-year time lag and reduce potential common method bias (Podsakoff et al., 2003). \ud Results and Implications \ud \ud Consistent with our hypotheses, our results show that configurations of structural separation and integrative mechanisms have different effects on the three aspects of corporate entrepreneurship. Innovation was affected by organizational level mechanisms, renewal by integrative mechanisms on top management team level and venturing by mechanisms on both levels. Surprisingly, our results indicated that integrative mechanisms on top management team level had negative effects on corporate entrepreneurship activities. \ud \ud We believe this paper makes two significant contributions. First, we provide more insight in what the effects of ambidextrous organizational forms (i.e. combinations of differentiation and integration mechanisms) are on venturing, innovation and renewal processes. Our findings show that more valuable insights can be gained by comparing the individual parts of corporate entrepreneurship instead of focusing on the whole. Second, we deliver insights in how management can create a facilitative organizational context for these corporate entrepreneurship activities

Topics: 150304 Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Corporate Entrepreneurship, Social Capital, Innovation, Venturing
Publisher: Swinburne University of Technology
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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