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in-tra-pre-neur (Inštre-pre-nur) n. A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation [intra(corporate) + (ENTRE)PRENEUR.] -inftrapre-nouri-al adj. -intra-pre-neuri-al-ism n. -in'trapre-neuri-al-ly adv.


WORD HISTORY

The word entrepreneur is more than 150 years old, having come into English from French in 1828. But it is not until very recently that we find its intracorporate counterpart, intrapreneur, meaning "a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation." This coinage is generally attributed to management consultant Gifford Pinchot, author of the 1985 book entitled Intrapreneuring; others insist its true originator was Norman Macrae, deputy editor of the Economist, although Macrae himself denies it. Still, whatever its exact source, in the scant number of years since its inception the term intrapreneur has gained currency very quickly. It has also given rise to various derivatives, such as the aforementioned gerund intrapreneuring, the noun intrapreneurship (as in a September 30, 1985, interview with Stephen Jobs in Newsweek: "The Macintosh team was what is commonly known as intrapreneurship-only a few years before the term was coined - a group of people going in essence back to the garage, but in a large company"), the adjective intrapreneurial, and another noun, intrapreneurialism ("what has become known as intrapreneurialism, where people within the corporation acquire more adventurous small business outlooks," by Ian Hamilton-Fazy in "An Uneasy Co-existence," Financial Times, October 23, 1984). Broad use of a word and the development of numerous derivatives are strong signals predicting staying power within the language. Intrapreneur and its spinoffs are of particular interest to etymologists and lexicographers because they illustrate the constant changes inherent in a living language.

 

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