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Intrapreneurial Innovation in Teaching & Learning in Research-Led Universities

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 2:00pm – 2:30pm parallel session



Room 2 – 303-G14, Sem



Bridget Cameron
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Professor Susan Geertshuis
University of Auckland, New Zealand



Intrapreneurship, broadly defined as the pursuit by individual agents of innovation within the setting of an established organisation, has been empirically linked with organizational strategic renewal, sustainability and growth (Antoncic & Hisrich, 2001; Baruah & Ward, 2014). It is therefore a topic that should be of paramount interest to tertiary institutions challenged by a multiplicity of external drivers (Tierney & Lanford, 2016) and, who, while espousing the rhetoric of discovery and innovation (Hannan & Silver, 2000), have a reputation for being slow to innovate (Twidale & Nichols, 2013).


The issue

HE scholars, rather than exploring intrapreneurship in teaching, have focused almost exclusively on institutional-led innovation and strategy. The HE literature tells us little about “intrapreneurship” particularly as it is effected within the teaching and learning domain (Mars & Metcalf, 2009; Temple, Paul, 2009; Todorut, 2010). This is a serious gap which this paper seeks to address.


Data collection and analysis

In 2018, the presenters received human ethics approval from their institution to investigate the practices of 25 intrapreneurial educators from two research universities in Australia and New Zealand. To be included in the sample, participants needed to have significant experience as innovators within research universities, and to have been directly involved in both the generation and implementation of their ideas. Participants reflected on how they went about developing and implementing novel educational practices and approaches within their setting. Attention was devoted to examining how participants understood innovation to occur or not occur, their motivations, their role and what they learned in the innovation process, and the conditions within their context for both success and failure.


Interview outcomes

The interviews have been analysed and we identified four distinct clusters of intrapreneurs. We also identified nine activities central to the intrapreneurial process. An effort was made to map the identified activities against intrapreneurial process models derived from the wider non-HE literature. The data did not provide a good fit indicating that intrapreneurship in research intensive universities cannot be explained by existing perspectives. In our presentation we will explain our findings and explore the implications for those seeking to shape or lead academic environments.



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Hannan, A., & Silver, H. (2000). Innovating in Higher Education: Teaching, Learning and Institutional Cultures. Buckingham: Open University Press
Mars, M. M., & Metcalf, A. S. (2009). The Entrepreneurial Domains of American Higher Education. ASHE Higher Education Report, Volume 34, Number 5. ASHE Higher Education Report, 34(5), 1–111.
Temple, Paul. (2009). Teaching and learning: an entrepreneurial perspective. In M. Shattock (Ed.), Entrepreneurialism in universities and the knowledge economy: diversification and organizational change in European higher education. 49-62. Maidenhead: Open University Press
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Todorut, A. V. (2010). Premises of the Intrapreneurial Management at the Level of Universities. Annals – Economy Series, 3, 195–208.
Twidale, M. B., & Nichols, D. M. (2013). Agile Methods for Agile Universities. In T. Besley & M. A. Peters (Eds.), Re-imagining the Creative University for the 21st Century (pp. 27–48).
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Presentation topic

Academics – Academic Environments

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