July 03, 2001
Accenture Explodes Myth of Lone Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is Collaborative and Adapts to Cultural Differences, Says Study

New York, July 3, 2001 – The popular image of the heroic and solitary entrepreneur is a myth, according to a major new study by Accenture. True entrepreneurship is not a lone pursuit but highly collaborative behavior of critical importance to every nation and organization, whatever its size.

"Liberating the Entrepreneurial Spirit" urges companies to foster entrepreneurship by adopting methods best suited to the cultural and social environments of the countries they operate in. The classic US approach is not necessarily the right one for the rest of the world, it says.

Business leaders put entrepreneurship at the top of their agenda, the study found, with an overwhelming 95 percent believing it is ’important’ to their success. But executives are clearly nervous about giving their workforce the freedom to act. While 70 percent complain that their employees lack entrepreneurial spirit, half believe it is possible for employees to be ’too entrepreneurial’. Executives are much more confident of their own abilities, however - 89 percent say they are acting entrepreneurially.

A new style of leadership is required to create a genuinely entrepreneurial environment, says the study. The focus should be on collaboration and effective teamwork rather than simply the promotion of individual maverick figures within the organization.

"Entrepreneurship has become a buzzword for business leaders and politicians," says Accenture’s International Chairman Vernon Ellis. "But many mistakenly believe that it is confined to start-ups and small businesses. Larger organizations, too, must liberate the entrepreneurial spirit if they are to adapt and survive in the 21st century. Business leaders have got to give people the confidence to act entrepreneurially, without fear of failure. The potential benefits are huge, while a lack of entrepreneurial behavior could have severe consequences for both business and society."

"Liberating the Entrepreneurial Spirit" is the product of an 18-month project by Accenture, drawing on a survey of 880 senior executives in 22 countries, extensive experience with clients, interviews with CEOs, politicians and other opinion formers, and an exhaustive analysis of economic data and secondary research.

"In the US, while 90 percent of the executives surveyed indicated that entrepreneurship is important to their companies success, only 50 percent actually provided any form of training on the subject," said Reinhard Ziegler, a managing partner in Accenture’s Human Performance practice. "The reality of today’s marketplace is simple: companies that engage in organizational entrepreneurship will ultimately become tomorrow’s market leaders. However this push will require firms to rethink their cultures and create systems that encourage and reward entrepreneurial behavior," he said.

There is a striking lack of agreement about entrepreneurship across countries and companies. For example, 70 percent of executives surveyed in Japan think that an entrepreneurial society is a greedy one, compared to the global average of 31 percent. Nor could executives agree on which organizations they consider entrepreneurial. They cited hundreds of different examples while 17 percent could not name one.

Social and cultural attitudes are the most significant factors in encouraging entrepreneurship, says the study. Corporations must understand and respect cultural conditions and apply an approach that is best suited to those differences. Barriers to entrepreneurship include negative attitudes to success, a reluctance to be seen as bucking the trend, and an aversion to risk and failure.

About the Study

  • Entrepreneurship is defined by the study as the creation of value by people and organizations working together, through the application of creativity, drive and willingness to take risks. It gives examples of corporations that have successfully fostered truly entrepreneurial cultures, highlighting achievements at BP, 3M and Sony, as well as large companies less often associated with innovation and creativity.
  • The Accenture survey was conducted with 880 board-level executives from organizations of varying sizes within the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. These included the leaders of 110 dot-coms. The interviews were conducted by telephone by the independent market research agency Opinion Leader Research. Respondents were based in 22 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading provider of management and technology consulting services and solutions, with more than 75,000 people in 46 countries delivering a wide range of specialized capabilities and solutions to clients across all industries. Accenture operates globally with one common brand and business model designed to enable the company to serve its clients on a consistent basis around the world. Under its strategy, Accenture is building a network of businesses to meet the full range of any organization’s needs -- consulting, technology, outsourcing, alliances and venture capital. The company generated revenues of $9.75 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2000 and $5.71 billion for the six months ended February 28, 2001. Its home page is http://www.accenture.com.

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