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Sadler, RJ 1999, 'Corporate entrepreneurship and government business enterprises: the pre-paradigmatic dance of the chameleon', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright RJ Sadler 1999


The existing research into corporate entrepreneurship is based upon experiences in the private sector. Reforms of public sectors throughout the western world are focussing on entrepreneurial practices as part of a program to align public sector management practices with those of the private sector.

This research concentrates on corporate entrepreneurship in the public sector and specifically addresses opportunities for the emergence of corporate entrepreneurship in Government Business Enterprises (“GBEs”).

The literature assumes that entrepreneurial practices in the private sector may be foisted upon the public sector. The paper proposes that corporate entrepreneurship in the public sector is the result of different influencing factors and involves different processes from its private sector counterpart.

Building on private sector research this research examines those factors that stimulate and constrain corporate entrepreneurship in the public sector. It addresses the extent to which the influences of factors that stimulate corporate entrepreneurship in the private sector are replicated in GBEs. This analysis generates a model that is founded on:

1. Three research propositions that concern the correlation between those factors that foster corporate entrepreneurship in the private sector and those applicable to GBEs. They also address the preponderance of those facilitating factors in corporatised and non-corporatised GBEs; and

2. An investigation into the manner in which the facilitating factors influence opportunities for the emergence of corporate entrepreneurship and the extent of that potential emergence.

The presence or absence of factors that stimulate or constrain corporate entrepreneurship, however, does not explain its occurrence or absence. Public sector organisations which ensure that the influence of those factors that facilitate corporate entrepreneurship outweigh the influence of the inhibiting factors are more likely to be ready and able to react to opportunities to create value by adopting entrepreneurial processes. This is the basis of a Model that is developed and refined during the course of the paper.

The Research Propositions were tested by a survey of 322 publicly urban water businesses located throughout Australia. The Model was illuminated and enhanced by considering case studies from twelve urban water businesses. The literature demonstrates that reforms to the public sector since the late 1970’s have created opportunities for corporate entrepreneurship. The literature also reveals that entrepreneurship is a strategic phenomenon. This paper demonstrates that the environment within which corporate entrepreneurship may occur is influenced by the organisation’s existence within either the public or the private sector and, within the public sector, the environmental and operating features of the entity as either a corporatised GBE, a non-corporatised GBE or other structure.