Public and third sector employees are facing increasing pressure to behave more entrepreneurially in their day-to-day work (Wakkee, Elfring and Monaghan, 2010). Literature on entrepreneurial orientation (EO) highlighted that EO enhances organisational performance, firms’ competiveness and product innovation (Rauch et al., 2009; Lumpkin and Dess, 2001). While previous studies on EO have applied the concept in relation to the overall performance of an organisation (Wiklund and Shepherd, 2005), this research explores EO at the individual level (Jelenc, Pisapia and Ivanušić, 2015; Bolton and Lane, 2012; Okhomina, 2010).
The aim of the research is to identify entrepreneurial potential of employees in public and third sector organisations through an Entrepreneurial Orientation perspective. This provides a means to explore potential entrepreneurial behaviour by determining past experience of employees and the extent to which they behave proactively in their current job roles, as opposed to identifying entrepreneurial traits of volunteers and employees.
This research is based on a large European study which explored the EO of 450 employees/volunteers, representing 216 public and third sector organisations spanning across six European countries, including Ireland (South East Region), Iceland, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy (Sicily) and Portugal. This study is a preliminary investigation and the research indicates the value in pursuing this area further. The preliminary findings illustrate that potentially employees in public and third sector organisations in Iceland and Ireland are more “entrepreneurial” in comparison to the other countries surveyed. Furthermore, the research indicates that there is a relationship between employees/volunteers that display entrepreneurial experience, their educational attainment, and the degree to which they feel empowered in the decision-making processes or are encouraged to seek new opportunities within their work environments.