Dean Chakravorti Examines "Of Gods and Small Things: Closing the Gap in Corporate Entrepreneurship"
Date: January 1, 2010
Entrepreneurship is frequently associated with a "small thing"—a venture that challenges the status quo and relentlessly pursues opportunity. The large established firms, the "gods," have forever coveted these small things—through incubation, financial support, or acquisition—in their quest for the Next Big Thing. The problem with corporate entrepreneurship, of course, has been that the entrepreneur must deal with the challenges of securing resources and support within an organization focused on operations that are "at scale." Entrepreneurs with miniscule, and often negative, financial contributions compete with mature businesses that are the primary revenue generators for the firm. Revenue is power, and for senior management taking their eyes off the mature businesses can be extremely costly. As a result, corporate entrepreneurship languishes despite its importance to the company's future. I argue that there may be a geographic solution to this dilemma. In such a solution, a fast-growing emerging market plays a central role in orchestrating a complete strategy for corporate entrepreneurship. I also argue that it is time to go beyond the traditional framing of an emerging market. The prescription of this chapter is to think about a more ambitious role for such markets: establish a strategic business unit, designated as a "disruptive innovation hub," that is charged with first penetrating the emerging market with products tailored to local needs and conditions and then leveraging that experience to develop disruptive innovations targeted at a global market. Scale and entrepreneurship—god and small things—can, indeed, cohabit and thrive in the developing world. This combination can become one of its major contributions to the global economy.