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Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 2017
How Intrapreneurship Enhances Existing
Organizational Structures: A Holistic Case Study
from a Large Academic Library
Judith Logan, User Services Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries
Lisa Gayhart, User Experience Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries
The concept of entrepreneurship has motivated people across a variety
of disciplines to leave tradutional workplaces in search of a different
type of employment. At its best, entrepreneurship provides
professional autonomy, faster product and service innovation,
and necessary disruption to industries that have become complacent
or stale.
This model seems far removed from libraries where we often
organize ourselves in traditional, bureaucratic structures along
functional lines (e.g., reference, cataloging, circulation). This
arrangement makes sense for libraries; our funding generally
comes from large parent institutions, so we are more stable
than sales-based businesses. Does this mean we are doomed
to miss out on entrepreneurship’s benefits? Not at all.
Like entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship offers organizations
opportunities to innovate. Batthini describes an intrapreneur as
“an employee of a large organisation who has the entrepreneurial
qualities of drive, creativity, vision and ambition, but who prefers, if
possible, to remain within the security of an established company.”1
This informal process is born of the employee’s analytical skills and
passion for their clients or organization. Intrapreneurial employees
take initiative to solve problems with an organization’s products
or services from within the existing organizational structure.
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