The new generation of entrepreneurs

2007

A generation of thrusting young entrepreneurs from emerging economies are snapping at the heels of today's stuffy Western business leaders – who are in danger of getting left behind.

That's the stark (for Western managers anyway) conclusion of research carried out by business consultancy McKinney Rogers, which is arguing that many new leaders are now embracing a more entrepreneurial approach to business.

Half the managers and business leaders in younger, emerging markets were ready to embrace entrepreneurship, even when working in large organisations, compared to just over a quarter in Europe and the UK.

And in Africa, almost nine out 10 managers in believed entrepreneurialism was something that could be developed and nurtured, against just over a third in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Less constrained by tradition, managers from emerging markets are more open to risk taking and creating a more flexible environment and culture, argued McKinney Rogers.

Slightly more encouragingly for Western managers, more than two thirds of those polled agreed it was important for large organisations to develop a core competence of entrepreneurship.

Many executives said the line between entrepreneurs and business leaders was blurring, heralding the emergence of a more entrepreneurial approach to business from the next generation of business leaders.

Executives saw both entrepreneurs and chief executives as being strong communicators, energetic, visionary, flexible, decisive, intuitive and not independent operators.

They also viewed the role of a CEO as including risk taking and flexibility, despite the fact that many CEOs themselves scored these attributes low as core skills for themselves.

When the managers polled were asked which parts of the business were important in achieving "corporate entrepreneurship", people and behaviour related objectives, such as encouraging ownership (72 per cent) and developing an entrepreneurial culture (47 per cent), featured more highly than operational areas such as creating and developing new ventures (39 per cent), said the survey.

Richard Watts, UK partner at McKinney Rogers, said: "What is interesting about this research in particular is the openness to entrepreneurs by the less established markets and also by newer industries such as technology, where the pace of change necessitates a more maverick, flexible and innovative approach to business.

"For older, more established markets to continue to flourish, they need to keep pace and this means adopting what is called 'intrapreneurship' – injecting some of the core qualities of an entrepreneur into a large business and adapting the culture to allow this to sit comfortably," he added.

Damian McKinney, chief executive at McKinney Rogers continued: "These results clearly highlight a real understanding across industry that entrepreneurship has an increasingly important part to play in driving a successful business.

"What business leaders need to understand is that this isn't about recruiting a number of entrepreneurs and hoping that they will make changes and expect them to mould to the current culture.

"The key is to identify and nurture entrepreneurial qualities in existing employees and create a culture that supports some of the innovation, risk-taking and flexibility that is associated with entrepreneurs and empowering people to take ownership for this," he concluded.