Motivate Entrepreneurial Employees

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J Bus Econ DOI 10.1007/s11573-013-0657-5 ORIGINAL PAPER

How companies motivate entrepreneurial employees: the case of organizational spin-alongs Patricia Klarner • Theresa Treffers • Arnold Picot

Ó Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Abstract This paper investigates how high-profile employees with entrepreneurial abilities can be attracted, retained, and nurtured in order to foster companies’ corporate entrepreneurship through innovations. We find that the spin-along design provides entrepreneurial employees with a combination of flexibility and security (flexicurity), corporate management, and control. Based on five in-depth case studies within an innovative company, our results show that the organizational spinalong structure supports and enhances entrepreneurial employees’ motivation and leads to the attraction, nurturing, and retention of such employees. We also find that senior management has a critical leadership role in enabling such an organization design by balancing flexibility and security with control. Keywords Entrepreneurial employees Á Motivation Á Organization design Á Qualitative research Á Spin-along JEL Classification D01 Á J01 Á J24

P. Klarner (&) Munich School of Management, Institute of Strategic Management, University of Munich (LMU), Ludwigstr. 28, 80539 Munich, Germany e-mail: klarner@bwl.lmu.de T. Treffers Á A. Picot Munich School of Management, Institute for Information, Organisation and Management, University of Munich (LMU), Ludwigstr. 28, 80539 Munich, Germany e-mail: michl@lmu.de A. Picot e-mail: picot@lmu.de

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1 Introduction In order to survive and grow in increasingly dynamic markets, companies have to continuously innovate (Ancona and Caldwell 1992; Daneels 2002). Generating innovations is thus a strategic goal for organizations. Innovation implies that companies gain new knowledge and transform it into new outcomes (Wineman et al. 2009), expand existing competences, and build new ones over time (Daneels 2002). Since innovation results from individual ideas (Scott and Bruce 1994), organizations have to attract, nurture, and retain employees with explorative knowledge (March 1991) and novel ideas (Van de Ven 1986). Such high-profile employees, i.e., employees with specific knowledge and entrepreneurial abilities, convert new knowledge into new products, processes, or services—a process called corporate entrepreneurship (Shane and Venkataraman 2000). However, there are few such employees in the labor market (Whitley 2002). Since they can apply their abilities in different settings and pursue several professional opportunities, the competition between companies to attract and retain them is fierce. Assuming that labor market can formalize and compare the available employees’ professional knowledge (Griliches 1997), employees with entrepreneurial abilities, i.e., innovative employees, are especially important for companies faced with continuous pressures to innovate. Since access to such employees can distinguish innovative firms from less innovative ones, it is important to understand how companies can attract and retain them over time. Prior innovation research has examined several contextual features, such as organic structures characterized by high degrees of decentralization and autonomy, that support organizational innovation (Burns and Stalker 1961). Scholars have also studied other drivers of innovation, such as the competences required for innovation (Daneels 2002; Leonard-Barton 1992), supportive leadership (Van de Ven 1986), and a strong innovation culture (O’Reilly 1989). In addition, research has examined employees’ innovative behavior, which is defined as developing, applying, and implementing new ideas in the organization (Shalley et al. 2004; Yuan and Woodman 2010; Zhou 2003). Employee innovation has been found to be affected by job characteristics (Oldham and Cummings 1996), positive affect (Amabile et al. 2005), the relationship between...
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