Breda creates a culture of intrapreneurship

Breda creates a culture of intrapreneurship


2017 – The municipality of Breda has around 1750 employees. From 2015 on – after a period of heavy financial cuts, many structural changes and strong hierarchical management – the municipality has chosen to implement several changes and stimulate a culture of intrapreneurship, among other things. The case description focuses on the stimulation of entrepreneurial behaviour in the municipality.


Social Innovation

The director together with the employees of the municipality have put it as their goal to change the course of the organisation on the basis of four different principles. These principles are: 1) making the networking capacity of the municipality stronger in order to improve the connection with partners and citizens, 2) increasing the flexibility of people and resources, 3) more efficient business management and 4) stimulating and improving a culture of intrapreneurship.

At the moment the organisation is transitioning to a program-oriented organisation. A program is guided by a program manager. Within such a program there are different so-called ‘chains’, also called departments, which are guided by a department manager. In a chain the employees work in teams with team leaders. Within this existing hierarchy, authority, tasks and responsibilities are put at a lower lever in the organisation. The employees have a lot of opportunities to perform experiments, especially in collaboration with the citizens.



The Inspiration and motivation to improve intrapreneurship is coming from the directors of the municipality. Those directors form a stable group since 2016. They try to be accessible to discussions and ideas coming from the employees, to give space to experiments and they try to be a model for their employees. There is a leadership program to support the (senior) managers in this.

The focus of the change in policy within the organisation lies on change in culture, mindset and behaviour of the employees, not on drastic changes in structure. For example through an internal market for orders, the organisation tries to stimulate flexibility and intrapreneurial behaviour of employees. Employees can sign up for an order or a part of it. The leaders in the organisation hope that this will encourage employees to start moving through the organisation and become more flexible and intrapreneurial. Also, experimenting with activities in collaboration with citizens is stimulated.

Besides that, through a program called ‘top services’ the chains of service which go through the whole organisation, were analysed and improved where needed. This evaluation and reflection contribute to the learning and education of employees. In the future individual feedback and reflection moments will change into evaluation conversations whenever one of the involved parties needs it.


Results and lessons learned

For concrete results it is still too early. But there is much positivity found in different groups of stakeholders, like external partners and the ‘works council’. Good communication is very much needed, for example about the what and how of the internal orders market. Besides that it is needed that the former tasks of someone who does an assignment get filled in, while that person is working on the new assignment or order. Also, it has to be clear what the new position is of a person who is working on a new order. And that has to be clear to the members of his/her team as well.

From theory you might expect that the hierarchical structure, which is still found in the organisation, becomes more or less disadvantageous for the process of employees growing in intrapreneurial behaviour.



Korteweg, Mirna. ‘Gemeente Breda creëert een cultuur van ondernemend werknemerschap. 2017. Rotterdam, Erasmus University & Leiden, TNO. The case description (in Dutch) is attached.


Theme: Intrapreneurship

Sector: Public Service

Source: Case