Tuesday, July 15, 2008

By: Garvin, David A., Levesque, Lynne C.,
Harvard Business Review,
October 2006, Vol. 84, Issue 10

Corporate entrepreneurship is a risky proposition.

New ventures set up by existing companies face innumerable barriers, and research shows that most of them fail. Emerging businesses seldom mesh smoothly with well-established systems, processes, and cultures. Yet success requires a blend of old and new organizational traits, a subtle mix of characteristics achieved through what we call balancing acts. Unless companies keep those opposing forces in equilibrium, emerging businesses will flounder.

Corporations must perform balancing acts in three areas: strategy, operations, and organization.

For companies that wish to succeed with corporate entrepreneurship, the lesson is simple: Success is not an either-or proposition. New businesses should be nurtured through a series of balancing acts that combine entrepreneurship and disciplined management, short-and long-term thinking, and established and new processes.

David A. Garvin (dgarvin@hbs.edu), the C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School in Boston, has authored or coauthored 11 previous articles in Harvard Business Review.

Lynne C. Levesque (lynnelevesque@cs.com)is a Boston-based consultant and researcher.

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