About the Author(s)

Nomkhosi T. Radebe Email symbol
Department of Human Resource and Management, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Radebe, N.T., 2024, ‘Intrapreneurship and dynamic capabilities interplay: Insights of a diamond mine’, Acta Commercii 24(1), a1178. https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v24i1.1178

Original Research

Intrapreneurship and dynamic capabilities interplay: Insights of a diamond mine

Nomkhosi T. Radebe

Received: 20 June 2023; Accepted: 14 Nov. 2023; Published: 26 Jan. 2024

Copyright: © 2024. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Orientation: When an organisation fails to innovate, it becomes obsolete, and the mining industry is a laggard in the adoption of change.

Research purpose: Intrapreneurs are independent strategic partners within an organisation who aim to exploit existing opportunities by leveraging on available resources. Conversely, dynamic capabilities are essential in understanding the firm’s activities. Innovation as an outcome of intrapreneurship through reconfiguration needs exploration. Dynamic capabilities as drivers of intrapreneurship within the mining industry need to be studied.

Motivation for the study: Expanding on the key role played by intrapreneurs in propelling innovation is key. The study builds on existing knowledge by closing the gap on how intrapreneurs innovate by identifying the competencies of an organisation and reconfiguring them for continuous improvement. Reconfiguration takes priority as it becomes the driver of innovation.

Research design approach and method: Qualitative research method using interviews and observations was employed to collect data. There were 43 interviews from intrapreneurs. The data obtained were analysed using the Atlas.ti software. The article follows a qualitative research method where data was collected through interviews and observations.

Main findings: There is an interconnection between intrapreneurship and dynamic capabilities through continuous reconfiguration propagated by innovation.

Practical/managerial implications: Successful innovation can be achieved by identifying an organisation’s internal capabilities, which the intrapreneurs will reconfigure to help position themselves. Additionally, this study is imperative to the mining industry in highlighting the importance of innovation, as it is characterised as a laggard to change.

Contribution/value-add: The dynamic capabilities as drivers of innovation and the unique fusion of the reconfiguration pillar in achieving competitive advantage spearheaded by intrapreneurs is important.

Keywords: intrapreneurship; dynamic capabilities; innovation; innovation drivers; reconfiguration; modification, competencies; transformation.


The vital role of intrapreneurs in organisations is becoming even more profound as the world evolves. This importance is exacerbated by the progressing industrial revolution where innovation, continuous improvement, technology artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and machinery are a reality. Additionally, dynamic capabilities are critical in distinguishing the competencies and capacity internal to an organisation that can lead to a competitive advantage. For example, an intrapreneur within such an organisation would be necessary for distinguishing those competencies to be reconfigured. The key objectives of this research are to establish the point of convergence between the concepts of intrapreneurship and dynamic capabilities. Furthermore, the research aims to establish the organisational capabilities required by the implementing innovation agent (intrapreneur).

Camelo-Ordaz et al. (2012) explained the lack of understanding of intrapreneurs’ impact on the firm’s innovation performance. The authors emphasised how the impact of intrapreneurs on the organisation’s innovation performance still required much research. They further explained how more research on what factors made some intrapreneurs more innovative than others were required. This gap is essential to close because only knowing and accepting that intrapreneurs are important without measuring how impactful they are is inadequate. So, therefore, quantifying their effect on the whole organisation is pertinent. For example, suppose organisations do not measure the impact of intrapreneurs on the entire value chain. In that case, the critical role of the play will be minimised, leading to the loss of a significant opportunity to maximise themselves. Thornberry (2001) asserted that although a lot was written on intrapreneurship, there was a gap in understanding how it should be implemented in large organisations as there was limited literature on implementation. Without a proper framework or guideline on how entrepreneurs should be innovative, it becomes too difficult to measure their success and therefore the ‘how’ part should be developed, which is partly what this research attempts to clarify.

Versailles and Foss (2020) pointed out some gaps within the concept of dynamic capabilities where different positions on the unit of analysis were adopted, but none converged into one understanding. Dynamic capabilities propose that managers modify and reconfigure their capabilities to best match the unpredictable business environment (Pavlou & Sawy 2011). One of the crucial questions to ask is which managers are responsible for the modification and reconfiguration of organisational capabilities. Extant literature acknowledges intrapreneurs as being vital to advancing innovation; however, the role of dynamic capabilities still needs to be explored. Klofsten, Urbano and Heaton (2021) agree that there is limited research on dynamic capabilities and intrapreneurship.

The nature of the mining industry is slow in adopting change, which poses a significant threat to the industry because of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) era in which the world finds itself. Ediriweera and Wiewiora (2021) share the same sentiments when they allude to how innovation and technology are resisted or slow to implement in mining. They expanded on how an industry at a mature stage becomes slow to adopt new solutions. Fernandez (2020) collaborated with that view when he alluded to the standard view that mining is a slow innovator. An organisation must innovate to avoid being lost with the daunting prospect of obsolescence. Being in the 4IR, according to Marivate et al. (2021), means that an industry is formed by technological revolution or technological change, which is a violent process because it is revolutionary. In essence, the business era forces industries to evolve, which, in this case, adopt innovation and technology, which poses an obstacle for the mining industry. In Africa, the role of intrapreneurship in driving innovation has yet to be studied enough at the time this research was being conducted. Moreover, not enough literature points out how to successfully implement innovation in totality. In this article, therefore, intrapreneurs are posed as the conduit used to bridge the implementation of innovation through dynamic capabilities (reconfiguration pillar). This article will highlight the association between intrapreneurs in propelling innovation through reconfiguration (dynamic capabilities pillar).

This article makes critical contributions to intrapreneurship literature in many ways. Firstly, the article confirms existing research that intrapreneurs are vital in fostering innovation even in a mining industry, which is a laggard. The critical responsibility of intrapreneurs in organisations is affirmed as being to innovate. The study further attempts to close some of the existing gaps on how to go about innovating in organisations by clarifying the role of intrapreneurs. Organisations must leave innovation responsibility to those identified as intrapreneurs within the organisation; this speaks to the managers, who have been identified as necessary in modifying and reconfiguring dynamic capabilities that include organisational capabilities. In turn, intrapreneurs foster innovation by identifying an organisation’s competency and continuously reshape those capabilities. The study attempts to ascertain the capabilities needed by intrapreneurs in an organisation that is renewing. Furthermore, the current study will explore the interconnection between intrapreneurship and the concept of dynamic capabilities, a study that has yet to be fully investigated at the time of this ongoing research. Finally, the intersection point is innovation, where intrapreneurs, as innovators, identify the competencies to be reconfigured continuously. The results in the article are presented in the same structure as in the literature review section; however, some subsections have been added to help improve understanding.


Different scholars have devised different definitions of intrapreneurship, which include judgement, according to the theory of Frank Knight (Foss & Klein 2012). McGrath (1999) defined intrapreneurship as an essential set of activities that trigger innovation. Almeida and Miguel-Oliviera (2022:71) suggest that ‘intrapreneurship relates to an individual who works in an organisation and manifests all his creativity and initiative to generate innovative products, services and organisational processes’ to gain competitive advantage. Martiarena (2013) concurs with the above notion that intrapreneurs are employees within an organisation. The author further highlighted how intrapreneurship should not be viewed as a sub-standard to entrepreneurship. The author explained how intrapreneurship included exploiting new business opportunities, essentially the reconfiguration pillar within dynamic capabilities. This is inclusive of the prerequisite of an intrapreneur to have the ability to sense and seize.

Figure 1 shows the linkage between intrapreneurship, also known as corporate entrepreneurship and innovation, where the corporate entrepreneur encourages innovation through action and the right attitude. In the illustration, the intrapreneur helps to promote innovation within the organisation, bringing about bureaucratic challenges while acquiring new opportunities and implementing and exploiting others. This brought about innovation within the organisation.

FIGURE 1: Innovation and corporate entrepreneur.

Dynamic capabilities

Dynamic capabilities are ‘the firm’s ability to integrate, build and reconfigure or transform’ (Teece et al. 1997:516). Dynamic capabilities thus reflect an organisation’s ability to achieve new and innovative forms of competitive advantage. This viewpoint is further collaborated by Merindol and Versailles (2020) when they reiterated how organisations were adopting the dynamic capabilities concept to achieve new ways of competitive advantage. Anning-Dorson (2021) emphasised the importance of capabilities when he indicated how having the necessary control capability through systems, processes and sufficient managerial capacity forms the basis of putting systems and structures in place to help measure the impact of an implementation process.

Fainshmidt et al. (2019) and Kaur and Mehta (2017) agree that dynamic capabilities have a positive outcome in achieving a competitive advantage. Fainshmidt et al. (2019), however, favour the view that the environment affects the outcome of the competitive advantage through the dynamic capabilities concept, which thrives in an environment that rapidly changes. This aligns with the views of Kaur and Mehta (2017), who explain the importance of simultaneously combining the exploitation of new resources and the ability to renew existing abilities. This view of organisational capability is further substantiated by Fainshmidt et al. (2019) when they stated that dynamic capabilities could help strengthen the strategic fit of an organisation to achieve competitive advantage through the alignment of operational capabilities.

Di Stefano, Peteraf and Verona (2014) viewed dynamic capabilities from the organisational level with strategic routines to achieve new resource configuration. The authors defended how their theory about improving organisational performance within rival markets was most suitable. This is in sharp contrast to a paper by Teece, Peteraf and Leih (2016), where they blatantly refused to acknowledge routines and processes as vital components of dynamic capabilities because they were slow to change.

Intrapreneurship is viewed as an extension of David Teece’s entrepreneurship viewpoint to bring about a new dimension to the dynamic capabilities concept by analysing the concept’s three core pillars. Firstly, David Teece viewed the dynamic capabilities framework from the perspective of entrepreneurship (Teece 2010, 2016). The author indicated how entrepreneurship and innovation thrived in an environment with little or no bureaucracy, hence the need for the organic structure to be less formal. For this research study, however, the researcher will propose to explicitly build on the concept of intrapreneurship, which is more aligned with the opinion of David Teece as opposed to the views of Di Stefano et al. (2014).

Teece (2016) stated that as an entrepreneur, the ability to sense, seize and reconfigure is a fundamental skill that one ought to possess. In this case, the author made a clear connection between the dynamic capabilities concept and entrepreneurship by highlighting the role played by an entrepreneur. Quite notably, the dynamic capabilities framework by Teece is still being used as a base when analysing the dynamic capabilities concept (Bogers et al. 2019). This is also the case for this research study where we propose using intrapreneurship within the dynamic capabilities’ framework of sensing, seizing and reconfiguring. Furthermore, Alves et al. (2017) alluded to how innovation was the positive outcome of being in control of dynamic capabilities. This statement further linked dynamic capabilities to innovation.

Innovation, on the other hand, is the result of the successful choice of a business model that includes the decision over a combination of assets and capabilities that may be available (Teece 2007). This research will look closely into the reconfiguration pillar instead of seizing and sensing. In their research, Teece et al. (2016) affirmed the concept of dynamic capabilities on how it linked and reconfigured the competencies of an organisation. They further explained how dynamic capabilities helped the company to innovate, adapt to any changes and create a change that customers would receive.

According to Teece et al. (2016:18), there were three main categories of dynamic capabilities:

Sensing – this requires the identification, development and assessment of technological opportunities and threats to customer needs. The authors clarify that the CEO and top management team are vital to sensing trends and developments to lead the firm. Merindol and Versailles (2020) further indicate how sensing is an individual rational process and a source of diversity in resource scarcity within the firm to help maintain a flow of understanding.

Seizing – involves mobilising resources to address the needs and opportunities and capture the value from doing so. Teece et al. (2016) further allude to how managerial decisions are the ones who seize, that is deploying, shaping and creating capabilities. Merindol and Versailles (2020) further suggest that opportunities to seize individual prospects only come into organisational capabilities later. The authors further probe the seizing pillar on how in as much as a decision process is individualistic, individuals do not operate in silos. Knowledge emanates in individuals, but individuals reside in groups or organisation-based perspectives.

Transformation and reconfiguring – entails continued renewal through new products, processes and systems. Merindol and Versailles (2020) emphasise reconfiguration as an initial manifestation of individual decisions. However, it represents collectiveness by redesigning routines, realigning assets, adapting business models, redeployment of capabilities in different locations, minimising internal conflicts and maximising productive exchanges. The authors further explained how reconfiguration required a social skill with individual skill, which enabled verbal and non-verbal communication actions that enabled top management to drive growth.

An intrapreneur’s primary responsibility is to sense, seize and reconfigure while recognising the role of dynamic capabilities as the driver of innovation. Intrapreneurship is another way of explaining the dynamic capabilities concept as an extension of David Teece’s study of entrepreneurship. Martiarena (2013) stated how intrapreneurship should not be viewed as a sub-standard to entrepreneurship. The author explained how intrapreneurship includes exploiting new business opportunities, essentially the reconfiguration pillar within dynamic capabilities.

Linkages between intrapreneurship and dynamic capabilities

According to Borch and Madsen (2007), dynamic capabilities are pertinent contributors to innovation and growth strategies of the firm. Chikumbo and Efremovskan (2012) concur with that view when they state how entrepreneurial behaviour in an organisation is closely linked to the organisation’s capabilities in responding to the volatile environment. The authors further highlight the significant role played by dynamic capabilities and intrapreneurship in continuously innovating within an environment that constantly changes. Some of the capabilities that a firm needs to facilitate innovation include resource acquisition capability, learning network capability, strategic path aligning capabilities and reconfiguration and integration capabilities; however, this needs more investigation. Bogers et al. (2019) added transforming capability as a competence needed to realign an organisation. According to Vu (2020), other capabilities that an organisation needs to possess not necessarily for innovation include integration capability, reconfiguration capability, adaptive capability, innovation capability and entrepreneurial capability. Other important capabilities are managerial capabilities (management actions that reconfigure resources) and organisational capabilities (organisational practices that enable renewal; these capabilities are pertinent in an organisation that is undergoing renewal (Montreuil, Lazuier & Gagnon 2021)). Borch and Madsen (2007) allude to the need for the repositioning of existing capabilities or the acquisition of new ones if the organisation undergoes a firm renewal process. Having said the above, dynamic capabilities become a driver for firm renewal.

Research methods and design

Data for this case study were collected by a qualitative method with an exploratory design. Jwaneng is a mining company that consists of about 2000 employees in total. It is one of the leading producers of diamonds in the world by volume and quality of the mineral, which is diamonds. The economy of Botswana is reliant on the productivity of the Jwaneng mine, as it is one of the country’s most significant contributors to its gross domestic product (GDP). One of the reasons for choosing this organisation was the interest in how it achieves and maintains its exponential growth over the years, with the industry background being a laggard.

The target population was the managers at Jwaneng mine, and the purposive sample consisted of 43 participants. The availability of participants at the different management levels made it possible to incorporate them into the study. The data were collected from all management hierarchical levels, that is, executives, senior managers, middle managers and supervisors. At the executive level, 7 members of out of 12 were interviewed; at the senior management level, 20 were interviewed; at the middle management level, 15 participants were interviewed and at the lower management level only one was interviewed because permission needed to be sought from the union to interview people at this level and lower. The interviewees consisted of representatives from both the technical side and support side. This includes representatives from Finance, Human Resources, Information technology, Mining engineers, Auditors, Ore processing department, Medical doctors, Change management department, Mineral resource management and Corporate affairs office. The senior managers constituted a large portion of the participants as they were readily available to the researcher and could easily decide which interview slot they could attend. A consent to conduct the research was requested from participants where it was also explained that the report might be published in future; however, confidentiality and anonymity of participants would be prioritised. Additionally, the request to record each interview was also made at the beginning of each interview. The interviews were scheduled during working hours. Prior to the start of the data collection, there was a schedule that changed depending on participant’s availability.

The research instrument used was semi-structured interviews, where 43 face-to-face interviews were conducted. Data triangulation (participants from different managerial levels with different backgrounds and varied groups) and methodological triangulation (interviews and observations) were used to validate the data that were collected (Farquhar, Michels & Robson 2020). There was strict adherence to the precepts of a grounded theory where initial data were collected and analysed. The questions were reformulated upon the realisation that the analysis needed some aspects. After that, the researcher went back to collect the data. The sample consisted of representatives from both the technical and support departments and comprised of top executives, senior managers, middle managers and a supervisor.

As part of data analysis, the recorded interviews were downloaded onto a laptop where they were then transcribed, which involved carefully and repeatedly listening to each interview and typing out what was recorded to be able to produce word documents of the interviews before loading the scripts onto the Atlas.ti software for simplified extraction of relevant direct quotations. The software provided the option to extract quotes after reading each Word document line-by-line. For every quotation captured, the number of the participant, a quotation number, and starting sentence number were provided (P1: 1; 3), respectively. After carefully analysing the quotations, patterns of words and phrases were identified where codification occurred and relevant corrections were made to sentences.

Ethical considerations

The ethic’s process commenced when the researcher submitted her application to the ethics committee of the school. Ethical clearance to conduct this study was obtained from the Paris School of Business, Ethics committee of the new PIC chair (No. 2019-02AB). The rights of the participants were protected as all permission and consent forms were signed off before the commencement of any data-collection process. In each interview, the participants were asked if they can be recorded, to which they all agreed with no reservations. The study was confirmed to be kept confidential to the researcher, and all participants’ names were kept confidential. The recording was locked away in a safe place and only accessible to the researcher. The data for the research were gathered after all ethic clearance approvals of the Business School had been concluded. The confidentiality of the participants was of utmost importance as required on an ethics application form. As it is a qualitative study, codes were used instead in identifying who said what; for example P1, meaning Participant 1 who is only known to the researcher and no one else.


In this section, the qualitative data collected on the field are presented. The results are presented in the same sequence and logic as the literature review with an addition on innovation sub section.


Three participants pointed out that innovation is observed when business processes and systems are reconfigured to enhance the quality of work. A Corporate Affairs Officer said that: ‘We have to reconfigure our processes to improve effective operations’ (P24). Another interviewee, a BI Manager had this to say: ‘Remember innovation is not just about technology. Innovation is about improving your processes and workflows’ (P17). In view of managing operations, (P19) reiterated that: ‘Diamonds are there, nature has already created them, but it’s the improved ways we use to mine them that can either make them attractive or less attractive’. The data showed that the commitment to improved operations was shared by both primary and supporting operations. A Middle Manager in finance postulated that: ‘Innovation has been at the core of every strategy that we develop because that is the centre of the matter…’ (P15) (P1). An executive also shared the same views that: ‘If we are there to create value for the shareholders, the initiatives come from innovation and change’ (P21).

Reasons provided for promoting innovation in the organisation

Five respondents suggested that innovation involves generating new solutions to improve operations to mitigate internal and external challenges. Interviewee (P19) pointed out that: ‘…innovation is vital as a way of developing solutions to internal and external challenges’. This view provided a link between innovation and formulating strategies in the organisation. An IT analyst in the middle management indicated, ‘Generally, employees come up with new ideas and provide the business case and submit requests for capital approval to take the ideas further for implementation’ (P26).

The interview field data from two participants revealed that innovation encompasses continually generating new solutions to improve operations to accomplish corporate goals. A Mining Manager at the senior management level highlighted that: ‘There is one thing unique about our company which I have seen in the past few years that our corporate strategy promotes the trying out of new things in the work environment’ (P28). This response was like the earlier view suggested by (P19) regarding the importance of strategy in fostering organisational improvement. A Financial Accountant confirmed, Innovation is continual learning and unlearning of certain things you are exposed to. ‘So, one cannot be innovative if you are not ready to embrace new things’ (P14).

The analysed interview data showed that two types of innovation were introduced in the different operations of the mining company. The two types of innovation supported by the data from the current study were process innovation and technological innovation. Technological innovation: 13 participants stated that acquired technologies were used across the different departments in the company to improve the quality of decisions and services, reduce costs and ensure the safety and security of the stakeholders. Interviewee (P17) mentioned different technological acquisitions, including: ‘An integrated software known as GEMS used for modelling, and we are moving into 3D-experience, which has analytics capability’ (P22). revealed the application of Dynamic Mine Design when the Mining Manager responded, saying:

‘We introduced what we call Deep Slope Mining (DSM). DSM is a process that involves mining across the bedding planes following the gradient of the planes. Initially, we used to mine along the area of bedding planes of the pit.’ (P27)

Shared a similar view: ‘…we have introduced a new software package used to perform 3D modelling of our plans’. The GEMS software was followed by an improved technology known as Leapfrog to enhance 3D modelling. Process innovation – The reconfiguration of production processes was targeted at lowering costs, increasing output and improving safety. The ore processing management included the improvement of the ore resource management. Six participants suggested how they improved plant processing, mining and fieldwork processes. Data from a Training Manager at middle management confirmed that: ‘There are many process improvements at the process plant in terms of addressing issues of driving technology advancement for the diamond recovery plant’ (P16). A Geological Scientist supported mineral stock management processes to improve output quality.

What is an intrapreneur?

The interviewees described the term intrapreneur using different attributes associated with the person. Six participants associated intrapreneurship with senior managers responsible for identifying business opportunities and making critical decisions that make the organisation profitable. One Mining Manager said, ‘An intrapreneur is someone very innovative to ensure that the organisation that he/she is working for operates profitable and sustainable’ (P22). The interviewees also confirmed that managers operated their departments like mini business areas (MBA) in a sustainable manner, like how the owners (entrepreneurs) would push the corporate agenda. Intrapreneurs know that they are cushioned even if they make a bad decision’ (P18).

A Medical Superintendent supported that: ‘Intrapreneurship is when a person is enterprising and innovative inside an organisation’ (P19). This was similar to the results of Sharma and Charisma (1999), who state that intrapreneurship is a process that involves internal people who create new organisations or initiate renewal in the same organisation. An IT senior manager associated intrapreneurship with executive management when she commented, ‘Intrapreneurs are corporate champions and trailblazers who receive bonus schemes when the company performs well. They make impactful decisions that take the company to new heights’. Camelo-Ordaz et al. (2012) echo the view that an intrapreneur is an architect of innovation within an organisation. The typical intrapreneurs examples were the chief executive officer, general manager, executive committee team, middle managers and frontline managers. A senior manager (or processing engineer) said that:

‘In corporate language, by intrapreneurs, we refer to the CEO, GM and Exco team; if they are not intrapreneurs, they will run down the company. I give you a cut-off up to the level of foreman.’ (P43)

The view excluded operatives or ordinary employees from being intrapreneurs.

Dynamic capabilities (reconfiguration)

In the 2024 corporate strategy, innovation has been added as one of the key strategic pillars. This was substantiated by the corporate strategy document, confirming an innovation pillar added to their strategy. (P30), a senior processing engineer stated:

‘In the boardroom, the leadership knows the importance of innovation and cascades the strategy across all the managerial levels. We engage our team members at middle management to do something tangible.’ (P24)

‘The first thing our organisation provides is the resources because to implement innovative initiatives effectively, we must have resources’ (P6): ‘If it were a good idea, the company would investigate it and provide resources’. There was an ongoing review of the corporate strategy on an annual basis to ensure reconfiguration and review where necessary. (P22) A senior mining engineer ‘We do a continuous review. We review how we deliver the strategic pillars and what innovations we bring to deliver these objectives’.


The Debswana Group deployed a parenting strategy to create value by ensuring the decentralisation of authority to the mining operations to promote the practical improvement of decision-making in the subsidiaries. The approach was hailed as vital for promoting agility, flexibility and efficiency in decision-making, as supported by P11, who hinted that the company needed agile structures, bamboo flexibility, removing bureaucracy and making quick decisions. On the other hand, P4 shared that the business improvement initiatives were strategically centralised at the Corporate Office in the past. The decentralisation strategy shifted the strategic innovation focus and allowed decision rights to management in mining operations. The model structure clarified the responsibility and accountability, P40 observed a clear and easy link between operational and corporate decisions.


Building on existing work, this article confirms that intrapreneurs are individuals within an organisation who primarily innovate. We, therefore expand the intrapreneurship theory by exploring its link to the dynamic capabilities theory to ascertain the connection between these two concepts. The critical insight from this study suggests that innovation is the basis upon which the concept of intrapreneurship and dynamic capabilities integrate, ultimately yielding a competitive advantage. Dynamic capabilities research has often investigated volatile environments (external); in this study, however, applying the concept is inward facing by looking at how dynamic capabilities can be applied to foster innovation spearheaded by intrapreneurs within the organisation’s value chain. This view implies that dynamic capabilities are expressed as drivers of innovation in the mining industry, operationalised as an antecedent to entrepreneurship and firm innovation. This notion is supported by Klofsten et al. (2021) who suggest that dynamic capabilities are seen as a complement to entrepreneurship, which when combined bring about abilities that improve innovation within the organisation. The authors further confirmed that other researchers believe that dynamic capabilities promote entrepreneurial orientation inside the organisation.

The competencies of intrapreneurs include:

  • an organisation that has entrepreneurial managers (entrepreneurial capability)
  • using their competencies that include the unique skillset of employees,
  • inspiring leadership (managerial capability),
  • customer-centric innovation,
  • being a learning organisation and collaborating through benchmarking with other industry players (learning network capability).

These competencies were confirmed to be required in an organisation that is undergoing transformation. At the mine, these competencies became even more prominent through the Business Improvement (BI) department, which was set up primarily to train, lead, advance and support any innovation plan the different departments and individuals initiate. This way of doing things was supported by Klofsten et al. (2021) who purported that dynamic capabilities that are supported by strategic leadership of the organisation help improve the performance of the organisation.

Pavlou and Sawy (2011) view managers (without specification of which level of management) as responsible for making decisions during turbulent times (through applying the dynamic capabilities concept). This provides confirmation that an intrapreneur can come from any level of the organisation (distributed intrapreneurship). Martiarena (2013) validated this view when she stated that intrapreneurs were employees of an organisation without explicitly mentioning their level. This study corroborates the iterations made earlier that intrapreneurship should be equally accessible by anyone within the organisation, as the emanation of innovative ideas should not be limited to anyone or any department but open to everyone. The above view, however, contrasts sharply with Anning-Dorson (2021), who suggested that for a competitive advantage to be achieved, only top management should be pioneers of innovation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Teece (2007) demonstrated three pillars of dynamic capabilities: sensing, seizing and reconfiguration. It is a profound quality of an intrapreneur to have the ability to sense opportunities, seize them and reconfigure models to build competitive advantage. The reconfiguration at the mining company was observed through the transformation of mining methods, which integrated deep-pit and open-pit mining using broad technological innovation. The results indicated that deep-pit mining was a new territory for the company and worldwide, which thrived on implementing the Dynamic Mine Design, a new mining method such as DSM, which involved mining across the bedding. The Dynamic Mine Design showed reconfiguration at the mining company, which differentiated the company from competitors who solely relied on open-cast mining. The other reconfiguration decision involved the decentralisation of authority by the corporate centre to the mining company to enhance the quality and speed of decision-making. The quick decision-making enabled improved cost models in the company’s technical operations, which fostered the overall company’s performance. The decentralisation of authority was a corporate strategy devised by the corporate centre. These peculiar functional tasks of reconfiguring models, process management and transforming mining methods, process management, identification of organisational competencies and risk management, among other responsibilities in the mining industry, all require a special managerial intrapreneurship.

The positive impact of intrapreneurs through identifying (sensing) an organisation’s capabilities can be explained as the reason for achieving competitive advantage through continuous reconfiguration of those capabilities. Notably, innovativeness thus becomes an essential competence an organisation should have to be sustainable. The point of convergence between intrapreneurship and dynamic capabilities is where dynamic capabilities act as an driver of innovation, which the intrapreneurs lead.

Study limitations

The organisation under study was in Botswana whilst the researcher was in South Africa; this caused much strain in organising the logistics of the different visits made to the mine. The last round of interviews was conducted in December, just before the organisation closed, and some participants were impatient as they were focused on winding down the year and leaving for their respective homes. The interviews could only be conducted during working hours as participants stayed far and this limited the researcher in accessing a lot of other potential interviewees.

Implications for future study

This research study opened gaps for future studies to be conducted either quantitatively or using the mixed method to expand on intrapreneurship and how it links to dynamic capabilities. Furthermore, a study can be conducted by analysing the other two dynamic capability pillars not covered in this study, that is sensing and seizing pillars or a combination of all three pillars, to ascertain their link to intrapreneurship and innovation.


Even though there are some limitations to this study, there has been some substantial contribution that has been made regarding the association between intrapreneurs and dynamic capabilities. Intrapreneurs, in their natural state, exist solely to ensure organisational renewal, reconfiguration, rejuvenation and innovation. This confirms that innovation is critical for an organisation to be sustainable and have a competitive advantage. Furthermore, dynamic capabilities emanating from the resource-based view are also vital in positioning an organisation within an industry and ensuring it ultimately becomes a pioneer. An intrapreneur becomes critical in positioning that through the reconfiguration pillar of the dynamic capabilities concept.


The author thanks Prof. David Versailles for the guidance provided during the research process, whose foresight and wealth of knowledge helped to shape her in the process. The author also thanks Prof. Thomas Anning-Dorson for steering her in the right direction and supporting her as an upcoming researcher. Prof. David Versailles’s dedication to the development of novice researchers is much appreciated.

Competing interests

The author has declared that no competing interest exists.

Author’s contributions

N.T.R. contributed 100% to the whole report by attending to all the different sections of a research report on her own as outlined in Section 4 of this document. The author confirms that all the work has been done by herself (single authored).

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not to profit sectors.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, N.T.R., upon reasonable request.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.


Almeida, F. & Miguel-Oliveira, J., 2022, ‘The role of intrapreneurship in Portuguese startups’, Periodica Polytechnica Social and Management Sciences 30(1), 70–79. https://doi.org/10.3311/PPso.17796

Alves, A.C., Barbieux, D., Reichert, F.M., Tello-Gamarra, J. & Zawislak, P.A., 2017, ‘Innovation and dynamic capabilities of the firm: Defining an assessment model’, RAE: Revista de Administração de Empresas 57(3), 232–244. https://doi.org/10.1590/s0034-759020170304

Anning-Dorson, T., 2021, ‘Organizational culture and leadership as antecedents to organizational flexibility: Implications for SME competitiveness’, Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies 13(5), 1309–1325. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEEE-08-2020-0288

Bogers, M., Chesbrough, H., Heaton, S. & Teece, D., 2019, ‘Strategic management of open innovation: A dynamic capabilities perspective’, California Management Review 62(1), 77–94. https://doi.org/10.1177/0008125619885150

Borch, O.J. & Madsen, E.L., 2007, ‘Dynamic capabilities facilitating innovative strategies in SMEs’, International Journal of Technoentrepreneurship 1(1), 109–115. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJTE.2007.014731

Camelo-Ordaz, C., Fernández-Alles, M., Ruiz-Navarro, J. & Sousa-Ginel, E., 2012, ‘The intrapreneur and innovation in creative firms’, International Small Business Journal 30(5), 513–535. https://doi.org/10.1177/0266242610385396

Chikumbo, I. & Efremovska, I., 2012, An emerging innovation agenda: Leveraging intrapreneur’s influence on the dynamic capabilities of a company, viewed n.d., from https://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:bth-5685.

Di Stefano, G., Peteraf, M. & Verona, G., 2014, ‘The organizational drivetrain: A road to integration of dynamic capabilities research’, Academy of Management Perspectives 28(4), 307–327. https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2013.0100

Ediriweera, A. & Wiewiora, A., 2021, ‘Barriers and enablers of technology adoption in the mining industry’, Resources Policy 73, 102188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resourpol.2021.102188

Fainshmidt, S., Wenger, L., Pezeshkan, A. & Mallon, M.R., 2019, ‘When do dynamic capabilities lead to competitive advantage? The importance of strategic fit’, Journal of Management Studies 56(4), 758–787. https://doi.org/10.1111/joms.12415

Farquhar, J., Michels, N. & Robson, J., 2020, ‘Triangulation in industrial qualitative case study research: Widening the scope’, Industrial Marketing Management 87(3), 160–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2020.02.001

Fernandez, V., 2020, ‘Innovation in the global mining sector and the case of Chile’, Resources Policy 68, 101690. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resourpol.2020.101690

Foss, N.J. & Klein, P.G., 2012, Organizing entrepreneurial judgment: A new approach to the firm, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Kaur, V. & Mehta, V., 2017, ‘Dynamic capabilities for competitive advantage: A comparative study of IT multinationals in India’, Paradigm 21(1), 31–51. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971890717701781

Klofsten, M., Urbano, D. & Heaton, S., 2021, ‘Managing intrapreneurial capabilities: An overview’, Technovation 99, 102177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.technovation.2020.102177

Marivate, V., Aghoghovwia, P., Ismail, Y., Mahomed-Asmail, F. & Steenhuisen, S., 2021, ‘The fourth industrial revolution-what does it mean to our future faculty?’, South African Journal of Science 117(5–6), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2021/10702

Martiarena, A., 2013, ‘What’s so entrepreneurial about intrapreneurs?’, Small Business Economics 40(1), 27–39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-011-9348-1

Mcfadzean, E., O’loughlin, A. & Shaw, E., 2005, ‘Corporate entrepreneurship and innovation part 1: The missing link’, European journal of innovation management 8(3), 350–372.

McGrath, R.G., 1999, ‘Falling forward: Real options reasoning and entrepreneurial failure’, Academy of Management Review 24(1), 13–30. https://doi.org/10.2307/259034

Merindol, V. & Versailles, D., 2020, ‘Boundary spanners in the orchestration of resources: Global-local complementaries in Action’, European Management Review 17(4), 101–119. https://doi.org/10.1111/emre.12321

Montreuil, V.L., Lauzier, M. & Gagnon, S., 2021, A closer look at determinants of organizational capability to innovate (OCI): A dynamic capabilities perspective, European Journal of Innovation.

Pavlou, P.A. & El Sawy, O.A., 2011, ‘Understanding the elusive black box of dynamic capabilities’, Decision Sciences 42(1), 239–273. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5915.2010.00287.x

Sharma, P. & Chrisman, J.J., 1999, ‘Toward a reconciliation of the definitional issues in the field of corporate entrepreneurship’, Entrepreneurship theory and practice 23(3), 11–28.

Teece, D., Peteraf, M. & Leih, S., 2016, ‘Dynamic capabilities and organizational agility: Risk, uncertainty, and strategy in the innovation economy’, California Management Review 58(4), 13–35. https://doi.org/10.1525/cmr.2016.58.4.13

Teece, D.J., 2007, ‘Explicating dynamic capabilities: The nature and microfoundations of (sustainable) enterprise performance’, Strategic Management Journal 28(13), 1319–1350. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.640

Teece, D.J., 2010, ‘Business models, business strategy and innovation’, Long Range Planning 43(2–3), 172–194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lrp.2009.07.003

Teece, D.J., 2016, ‘Dynamic capabilities and entrepreneurial management in large organizations: Toward a theory of the (entrepreneurial) firm’, European Economic Review 86, 202–216.

Teece, D.J., Pisano, G. & Shuen, A., 1997, ‘Dynamic capabilities and strategic management’, Strategic Management Journal 18(7), 509–533. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1097-0266(199708)18:7%3C509::AID-SMJ882%3E3.0.CO;2-Z

Thornberry, N., 2001, ‘Corporate entrepreneurship: Antidote or oxymoron?’, European Management Journal 19(5), 526–533. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0263-2373(01)00066-4

Versailles, D. & Foss, N., 2019, ‘Unpacking the constituents of dynamic capabilities: A microfoundations perspective’, Management International/International Management/Gestiòn Internacional 23(4), 18–29. https://doi.org/10.7202/1066067ar

Vu, H.M., 2020, ‘A review of dynamic capabilities, innovation capabilities, entrepreneurial capabilities and their consequences’, The Journal of Asian Finance, Economics & Business 7(8), 485–494. https://doi.org/10.13106/jafeb.2020.vol7.no8.485

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.