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Corporate Entrepreneurship

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Corporate Entrepreneurship

Top Managers and New Business Creation

Cambridge UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A big corporation can be innovative, but only if its leaders think like entrepreneurs: risk-takers and rule breakers.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples


This solidly researched, well-written book makes a sound case for an unconventional view of corporate entrepreneurship. Author Vijay Sathe contends that the archetype of the lonely, low-level corporate entrepreneur is a fantastic, fairy-tale critter. In fact, entrepreneurship and new business creation happen in big organizations only when corporate leadership fosters it through a mix of principles and policies. Sathe grounds his case in a detailed exposition of experiences at major corporations, and carefully considers the evidence before pronouncing any judgment. Unlike many authors of books on this subject, Sathe seems both intellectually honest and genuinely interested in nailing the truth, not in hawking a nostrum. If the book has any flaw, it is that the author takes more pains than necessary at points, and presents more detail than the reader needs. That is not a grievous fault, and finds it very easy to forgive.



The public is fascinated with entrepreneurs - usually the lone-genius types, the Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates who starts with just an idea and a lot of grit and goes on to change the world and build a great business. That model isn’t all wrong. There is, after all, an, an Apple and a Microsoft.

But the stereotypical lonely entrepreneur is decidedly out of place in a large organization. Oddly, perhaps, the public stereotype of the employee or executive of the big corporation is negative. In the past, that stereotype was "the man in the gray flannel suit." More recently, the stereotype is of a number-juggling financial fraudster.

That’s unfortunate, because the economy depends greatly on innovation by large organizations. But the public isn’t entirely wrong when it stereotypes the corporate manager differently than the entrepreneur. In fact, entrepreneurship requires a philosophy, skill set and methodology different from that required by ongoing management.

These are the fundamental truths of corporate entrepreneurship:

  • The failure rate is high and effective controls are necessary.
  • The prospect...

About the Author

Vijay Sathe is Professor of Management the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, California. He wrote Controller Involvement in Management and Culture and Related Corporate Realities and co-authored Organization.

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