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Can Large Companies be Entrepreneurial?

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Many would argue no way. Smaller companies are more nimble and can react faster and easier to changing business climates than large companies. But a recent Knowledge@Emory article reveals that some large companies are "bucking the trend."

In an interview with Dr. Erich Reinhardt, CEO and president of Siemens Medical Solutions, the article outlines the steps Siemens is taking to act more entrepreneurially, including:

-- Breaking down the organization by creating individual divisions with clear goals and objectives.

-- Establishing a "stimulating atmosphere" where employees have access to and can readily share cutting-edge technologies and ideas.

-- Pointing out that part of being an entpreneur is a "matter of attitude," and employees can actively shape their areas of responsibility to meet the company's overall goals.

-- Providing the tools necessary to sustain an entrepreneurial spirit -- giving "them the resources, the freedom, and coaching to do it."

It all sounds nice, and in fact, might work for Siemens, but is it really that easy to make a large company "entrepreneurial"? One piece that seems to be missing is the maniacal commitment to the bottom line that many large companies have. Blinded by numbers, they seldom see opportunity in true innovation, unless, of course, it can happen in such and such time, produce X results, and come in at or under budget. Many large companies don't have the patience, or the backbone, to risk money and time to pursue being creative. After all, they do have shareholders to answer to. Many stay ahead of the curve by making acquisitions of smaller, innovative companies. At any rate, though Siemens might be making a go of it, I don't think it is the norm or will become the norm. Big business just isn't equipped to act entrepreneurially. What's your two cents?

Last updated: Oct 29, 2003




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