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Intra-preneurship and enrolment: Building networks of ideas

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrea Whittle, Professor Frank Mueller



In this paper we draw on and develop an actor-network perspective on organizational entrepreneurship-the study of enterprising behaviour within the firm. Based on the findings of an in-depth study of management consultants in a UK telecommunications firm, we argue that ideas do not flourish because they are inherently more 'enterprising' or 'innovative' than others, but rather because of the success (or otherwise) of the process of 'enrolment'. Our study shows that the consultants were not 'intermediaries without discretion', tasked with the diffusion of an already-established template. Rather, they acted as mediators by actively seeking to construct and maintain a network around their idea. By revealing the political tactics and power plays involved in this enrolment process, our study contributes to the actor-network literature by highlighting the link to organizational power and politics. The study also contributes by drawing attention to the subjectivity of network-builders-an issue often left under-explored in actor-network studies. We illuminate the identity processes involved in organizational entrepreneurship, including the link to systems of organizational control. This was fuelled by a mixture of anxiety, insecurity and the desire to be recognized as an 'intra-preneur'.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Whittle A, Mueller F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Organization

Year: 2008

Volume: 15

Issue: 3

Pages: 445-462

Date deposited: 24/04/2015

ISSN (print): 1350-5084

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/1350508408088539


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