Developing new capability: middle managers’ role in corporate entrepreneurship

Yuanyuan Wu, Zhenzhong Ma, Milo Shaoqing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of middle managers in the corporate entrepreneurship process that drives new capability development. Middle managers are highlighted as key entrepreneurial agents because of their special position in an organization. Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws on existing capability development and corporate entrepreneurship literature and develops a conceptual model and research propositions that are illustrated through three examples from a Chinese private firm. Findings: This paper contends the dual role of middle managers, both as change implementers to follow pre-set rules of an existing corporate entrepreneurship system and as change initiators to bring new rules to improve the existing system. Research limitations/implications: The paper is conceptual in nature, advancing the understanding of middle managers’ role in corporate entrepreneurship. The paper provides directions for future empirical research. Practical implications: The interactions between middle managers and other organizational agents are discussed in the propositions. This paper suggests the importance of empowering middle managers to facilitate changes in complex internal environments. Originality/value: The paper provides a unique theoretical contribution by introducing the interface-based, multi-level conceptual model of corporate entrepreneurship toward new capability development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-493
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Business Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Capability development
  • Change agent
  • Corporate entrepreneurship
  • Middle managers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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