Mart Kikas: Innovation occurs through the entrepreneurship of employees

doktori väitekiri
On average less than 5% of EU employees are behaving entrepreneurially at their workplaces
Modern society and businesses must be innovative. But where does this innovation come from? According to Mart Kikas' doctoral thesis "Managerial Perspectives on Fostering Intrapreneurship in Organizations Through Education and Training", defended on December 14, employees have a great and largely untapped potential here,

Entrepreneurship and innovation are treated as related phenomena in the scientific literature. Intrapreneurship, in its turn, is entrepreneurship in a specific context, where value for the organisation is created through the entrepreneurial behaviour of employees. "Currently, this potential is largely untapped," notes Kikas, who recommends paying more attention to the enthusiasm of employees. "There aren't too many enterprising employees."


Currently the level of intrapreneurship in the EU countries is low, on average less than 5% of employees are behaving entrepreneurially at their workplaces, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports.


Kikas' dissertation, which focuses on the research question: how to promote intrapreneurship in organizations through education? helps to solve the problem.


According to him, to promote innovation, it is inevitable to take the direction towards intrapreneurship education. "Only about 15 percent of the working-age population are entrepreneurs, in case of intrapreneurship, a much wider share of people can be involved. Without being entrepreneurs themselves, they can still act entrepreneurially in their workplaces."


Kikas emphasizes that in order to be relevant to a wider part of society, entrepreneurship education must involve intrapreneurship education. „Not everyone can be an entrepreneur. But the rest of the population should also receive entrepreneurship education in the context of how to show initiative in the workplace. Entrepreneurship as initiative is a broader topic: it can be expressed everywhere."


Internal entrepreneurship competence is based on three pillars: knowledge, skills, and attitudes. While knowledge can be acquired quickly and skills through learning, changing attitudes takes longest.


Kikas notes that attitudes often become the biggest stumbling blocks. The traditional management system works from the top down. The new model, which best promotes the manifestation of employees' potential, works from the bottom up. "Studies show that within the traditional system, the potential of employees remains largely untapped.”


The intrapreneurial organisation model covers the culture, structure, and processes of the company as well as the individual level. It should also be considered that not all employees are potential innovators. "Not everyone is entrepreneurial, only some. And this part - the innovators - must be motivated," emphasizes Kikas. "After that, competences come into play."


According to Kikas, the intrapreneurial organisation model does not appear much yet. "It’s not there yet because the leaders have not encouraged it. It is the management's decision, to encourage intrapreneurship or not." The models presented in the doctoral thesis help to implement the decision.


Mart Kikas' doctoral thesis can be read here.


Find out more about doctoral studies in EBS here