In order to compete effectively and maintain their competitive position many large companies recognise the need for entrepreneurial endeavour within their organisations, however they often lack the ability to create the necessary conditions or stimulate this type of behaviour which is generally known as corporate entrepreneurship. Indeed they may be constrained by their existing corporate structure and culture; the very thing that defines and embodies their singular corporate identity. The literature confirms the enduring importance of this topic for both theory and practice.

Tesco plc has become the UK market leader in grocery retailing and operates a highly successful niche business, a home delivery service known as Tesco.com. This study is concerned with finding a theoretical explanation for the emergence of this new venture from conception and inception in the mid 1990’s to becoming a fully incorporated and profitable business over an eight year period. Recent work on a theory of entrepreneurial mechanisms informs the discussion and provides insight into the generic processes which involve three interlinked concepts. The first is emergent properties, the second is the production of order at multiple levels and the third is the social situatedness of these processes.