Entrepreneurs still regarded with suspicion, despite valuable skills – Executive Grapevine

Many businesses want leaders to display creative thinking, energy and the ability to challenge ideas, but are reluctant to employ individuals with precisely those characteristics.C-suite executives participated in the research undertaken by executive search firm Cripps Sears & Partners in conjunction with Kingston University Entrepreneurship Centre. They acknowledged that business today is more competitive than ever before, thanks to influences such as technology and globalisation, and agreed that innovative, driven individuals were needed to help lead successful companies. However, they were reluctant to accept that this indicated a need for entrepreneurs in a corporate context.

Martin Warner, Cripps Sears & Partners, comments: “Although companies recognise that people with entrepreneurial traits are needed to innovate and enable change, most do not think that this outweighs the perceived negative characteristics in employing entrepreneurs in the corporate environment.”

Dr Nick Wilson, Principal Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Kingston Business School, explains: “Analysis of assignment briefs highlighted a mismatch between some of the rhetoric in terms of what companies were looking for, and the skills and competencies of the successful candidate. A typical example has a brief identifying the greatest challenge as ‘driving through change’. However, the personal specification makes little reference to skills such as leadership and negotiation that might demonstrate the candidate’s ability to drive through change.”

“The biggest fear seems to be that entrepreneurs in the corporate environment will take too many risks and negatively affect business performance. However it is rare that any decisions are taken autonomously. In reality, decision-making is constrained by a level of contextual factors, and subject to a myriad of internal and external conditions.

“At the very least this research calls on companies to re-evaluate how individuals with entrepreneurial capabilities might be recruited and managed in a corporate context so that companies do not run scared of innovators, and instead, risk stagnation.”