Purpose – Entrepreneurship theories have a predominant developed economy focus, but the relevance of these theories for emerging economies remains largely untested. The purpose of this paper is to show how the antecedents to strategic corporate entrepreneurship influence the entrepreneurial intensity of emerging economy firms in South Africa. Design/methodology/approach – A quantitative study was carried out, using a telephone survey to obtain responses from 146 established South African firms. Findings – The findings indicate that entrepreneurship theories are contingent on the economic context. Entrepreneurial intensity (EI) of firms is strongly related to organizational antecedents and environmental opportunity perceptions. Three organizational antecedents are crucial to create a supportive internal environment: management support, autonomy and rewards. Furthermore, perceptions of munificence are positively related to EI. However, hostility, found to be related to entrepreneurial activity in developed economies, is not related to EI in this sample. Practical implications – Managers, operating in emerging economies, can stimulate strategic corporate entrepreneurship by creating a supportive internal climate and fostering opportunity perceptions in dynamic, hostile environments; however, strategies using social or political capital seem to be more suitable for managing threats. Originality/value – This paper enriches understanding of the contingent nature of entrepreneurship theories, suggesting that emerging country context matters, in terms of environmental opportunity and hostility perceptions for strategic corporate entrepreneurship.
European Business Review / Vol. 24, No. 5, pp.400-424