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Social Intrapreneurism and All That Jazz
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Social Intrapreneurism and All That Jazz

How Business Innovators are Helping to Build a More Sustainable World 

David Grayson, Melody McLaren and Heiko Spitzeck
March 2014   163+xvi pp   234 x 156 mm  
paperback   ISBN 978-1-78353-051-9   £25.00  

Alternative formats: hardback   eBook (ePub)   eBook (PDF)

Review copies   Inspection copies
"...a vitally important book. Nothing helps make the business case better than genuine stories of success. This book will be foremost on management bookshelves for years..." - Tobias Webb, Founder, Ethical Corporation and Innovation Forum

  Click here to read the Introduction (PDF)


In response to the world's rapidly-growing social, economic and environmental challenges, a growing wave of social intrapreneurs are harnessing the power of large companies to create new business solutions to address societal problems. Social Intrapreneurism and All That Jazz reveals how these highly creative social innovators are improvising alliances across, as well as beyond, their companies to: create micro-insurance products for low-income people; offer delivery services to millions of small businesses in slums around the world; develop alternative-energy solutions inside a major gas and oil corporation; partner with a Brazilian community to produce new natural care products; establish a green advertising network within a major media company; apply engineering expertise to help alleviate poverty and much more  all while generating commercial value for their companies.

Distilling insights from interviews with social intrapreneurs, their colleagues and experts around the world, the authors bring to life how business can be about more than just maximizing profit. They identify the mind-sets, behaviours and skills that have helped successful social intrapreneurs journey from initial idea to roll-out by their company  and some of the pitfalls. They also tell the stories of the intrapreneurs, managers and other colleagues who helped them get there, by providing support in bringing projects to fruition. Perhaps the most important lesson from this book is that, in contrast with the prevailing Western business archetype of the solitary entrepreneurial hero, successful social intrapreneurs do not act alone to achieve success.

Although their journeys may be lonely at times and require considerable application while working against the grain of large conventional businesses, successful social intrapreneurs are, above all, great communicators who inspire others to join them in achieving a higher purpose beyond the realms of conventional business. Drawing on the metaphors of ensemble jazz music-making, the authors describe howwoodshedding, jamming, paying your dues, being a sideman, joining and building a band  but, above all, listening to what is happening in business and the wider world are all part of the life of a successful social intrapreneurism project.

Whether you're an aspiring social intrapreneur who wants to change the world while keeping your day job, or want to renew the entrepreneurial spirit of your own company, this book is for you.


At last a book that highlights how we can be entrepreneuring wherever our career paths take us. For the last 15 years we have celebrated social entrepreneurs as the rock stars of the development world. This book expands and enriches the practice of entrepreneurship by including a heretofore unrecognised actor, the "intrapreneur" who working from within established institutions, combines innovation, opportunity and resourcefulness to drive critical and large scale changes in corporate practice aimed at improving social and environmental conditions ­ while meeting financial goals. The book is realistic about the challenges these entrepreneurs face, and provides guidance on how to turn those challenges into advantages. Bravo!
Dr. Pamela Hartigan, Director, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Said Business School - University of Oxford


Successful businesses understand that they need to engage their employees, bottom-up, with ways to tackle social problems as well as building long term economic value. Social intrapreneurism is a helpful and valuable way to capture the essence of that engagement.
Harvey McGrath, Chairman Heart of the City and former Chairman of Prudential plc, Man Group plc, and the London Development Agency


Social intrapreneurs are living the common purpose values and I hope this book encourages many more people to emulate the examples told here.
Julia Middleton, Founder, CEO Common Purpose


Social Intrapreneurism and All That Jazz offers an exciting insight into the world of individuals striving to create social and commercial value in larger structures such as companies. It also teaches us what companies could do in order to create an enabling environment for these innovation drivers to emerge. Anyone interested in social entrepreneurship should not miss this publication on social intrapreneurship, which shows that change and social impact can also come from within larger structures.
Markus Hipp, Executive Director, BMW Foundation


Impact Hubs make up a global network of people, places and programs that inspire, connect and catalyze impact. Traditionally we focused on entrepreneurs with social innovation projects and business plans. In the messy process of social innovation we discovered, however, that there are change agents inside corporations who want to live their values at work. Their innovations leverage corporate structures to create social impact. This book not only provides inspiring examples of social intrapreneurs but also tools and strategies which help to turn social innovation projects into practice.
Henrique Bussacos, Chairman of Impact Hub Global Association & Pablo Handl, Co-founder of Impact Hub, São Paulo


Social Intrapreneurism and All That Jazz offers a distinctive perspective on social entrepreneurialism within commercial enterprises (with the added twist of some themes and insights from the world of jazz music).  It also suggests a fascinating range of ways in which international NGOs can partner effectively with businesses to move them towards a stewardship model for future success.
David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF UK


This is a vitally important book. As corporate sustainability rightfully shifts beyond policy into every day business activity we are now seeing the creation of better products and services as a result. There's a real and pressing need to show how innovation within large companies can be supported and turned into genuine sustainable advantage. In Social Intrapreneurism And All That Jazz, David Grayson, Melody McLaren and Heiko Spitzeck have done just that. Nothing helps make the business case better than genuine stories of success. This book will be foremost on management bookshelves for years, and I look forward to the second edition.
Tobias Webb, Founder, Ethical Corporation and Innovation Forum


Creating a culture of responsibility and sustainability is a critical task for businesses today.  Encouraging our people to champion Shared Value projects that benefit the company and society, can help to build a culture of responsibility and sustainability.
Anthony Jenkins, CEO, Barclays and Cranfield School of Management International Advisory Board


Who should read this book? Social intrapreneurs with whom I spoke voiced a sense of delight at the awareness that others like them existed in other commercial organizations, that their ambition for a new way of doing business was shared, that they were not alone. Thousands like them will benefit from the knowledge and structures presented in this work. CEOs and other corporate leaders who believe they have responsibilities to a broad range of stakeholders beyond shareholders will appreciate tangible examples and frameworks to apply to their cultures.
Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Science, Technology, and Society, Santa Clara University



1.    How Social Intrapreneurs Are Rising To Global Business and Social Challenges

2.    Understanding Individual Social Intrapreneurs

3.    How Companies React - Challenges and Opportunities

4.    External Enabling Environment - External Organisations and Networks

5.    Impacts of Social Intrapreneurism

6.    Recommendations and Practical Tips

7.    The Way Ahead

Conclusion: Towards A New Way of Doing Business


Our Research

Further Reading and Resources

DAVID GRAYSON CBE is Professor of Corporate Responsibility and Director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at the Cranfield School of Man­agement in the UK. He joined Cranfield after a thirty year career as a social entrepreneur and campaigner for respon­sible business, diversity, and small business development. This included the chairmanship of the UKs National Dis­ability Council and several other government bodies, as well as serving as a joint managing-director of Business in the Community. He has also been a visiting Senior Fellow at the CSR Initiative of the Kennedy School of Govern­ment, Harvard 20062010. He has Masters degrees from the universities of Cambridge, Brussels and New­castle, and an honorary doctorate from London South Bank University. His books include: Corporate Social Opportunity: Seven Steps to make Corporate Social Responsibility work for your business (2004) and Everybodys Business (2001) and Corporate Responsibility Coalitions: The past, present and future of alliances for Sustainable Capitalism (2013). David co-edited Cranfield on Corporate Sustainability (2012).

MELODY MCLAREN is Co-founding Director of McLaren UK, a creative business services consultancy, and is an Associate of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Respon­sibility at Cranfield School of Management. A graduate of the California Institute of Technology and Birkbeck College, University of London, her eclectic career encompasses over 30 years of experience spanning a wide range of fields including research, writing, media relations, sales promotion, web development, social media and corpo­rate responsibility campaigning in the US and Europe.

HEIKO SPITZECK is Professor at Fundação Dom Cabral in Brazil where he teaches strategy & sustainability to senior executives. His teaching experience includes courses for the boards of Nestlé Brasil, Michelin Latin America, Grupo André Maggi and senior executives at Itaú, Braskem, Petrobras, as well as other companies on Sustainable Business and Innovation. His teaching is informed by more than 12 years of consulting experi­ence as well as academic research. His publications have appeared in numerous international journals as well as in several books published among others by Cambridge University Press. Heiko previously lectured at Cranfield University in the UK and held visiting positions at the University of California at Berkeley, Fordham University in New York (both U.S.) as well as the University of Extremadura (Spain). Heiko was educated in Germany, Spain and Switzerland. He received his PhD from the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland).