Entrepreneurship is about treading new ground. It is about taking a step no one has taken before, at least not in that same way or in the same place. So it should not be surprising that much of the scholarly literature on entrepreneurship, since Richard Cantillon in the early 1700s, has focused on entrepreneurship as uncertainty-bearing.
Although “bearing uncertainty” might be what entrepreneurs do in the economy from a theorist’s point of view, it is not — and should not be — the rationale for starting a business. After all, uncertainty means the outcome is unknown, which, in turn, means it could end up ugly. In other words, uncertainty is a cost — it is a burden on the entrepreneur’s shoulders. Entrepreneurs are right to attempt to avoid the uncertainty.
The fact is that theorists have it both right and wrong. Yes, entrepreneurs bear uncertainty because they are the ones getting the reward as profit and also the ones suffering the loss if things do not work out. But that uncertainty-bearing characterizes entrepreneurship does not make it the point of being an entrepreneur. Rather, it is a “necessary evil.”
better outcomes. Understanding this ‘dark side’ of intrapreneurship can also help us to better prepare intrapreneurs for the journey ahead and allow them to get into the right mindset.
Recent research I conducted with intrapreneurs from large corporate organisations showed that there is a dark side to intrapreneurship — moments where mental health can be on the line. The good news is that, once identified, these impacts can be mitigated by addressing three tensions at the heart of being an intrapreneur when constructing your intrapreneurship programme. These are autonomy vs control, emotional investment vs the desire for meaningful work and intrapreneurs vs the ‘corporate immune system’.