International Entrepreneurship

The professorship International Entrepreneurship started near the end of 2017 with the inauguration of Mariska van der Giessen as its professor of applied sciences. The team consists of six lecturer-researchers who have ties with both Leeuwarden and Emmen. The professorship is embedded in the Academy of Commerce & International Business and there is a close collaboration with the professorships of the research group Vital Economy.

The research projects in the professorship International Entrepreneurship are focused on local research and international outlooks. This can entail collaborations with international partners, but also (research) projects that are incorporated from an internationally comparative perspective by the provinces of Friesland and/or Drenthe.

Research focus

For decades, the world has been subject to increasing globalisation. We see that companies in a country such as the Netherlands are increasingly dependent on trade with other countries. Firstly, but not exclusively, with European trade partners. Considering the more rural areas of the Netherlands, the importance of themes such as international entrepreneurship, conducting business, and import and export are very important.

Dutch companies that refrain from exploring international opportunities, in most cases do not have a growth perspective in the long run. It is therefore imperative that companies explore the international perspective or continue growing in this area. This is not a new insight and the awareness among companies in regions such as the provinces of Friesland and Drenthe is present. However, many companies —especially small and medium-sized businesses— are struggling with practical everyday challenges when it comes to conducting business outside of the Netherlands or increasing their international activities.

That is why the research focus of this professorship lies on exploring the challenges these Dutch companies face when they (are about to) operate internationally. The question that can (almost) always be asked in all research projects is:

“What are the challenges in the area of international entrepreneurship, especially in the region/community in which the university of applied sciences is situated?”

 This is why the goal of the professorship is as follows:

“To take away barriers by finding out how these potential obstacles can be removed and in doing so, to add to the continued economic growth in the provinces of Friesland and Drenthe.”


The starting point for the professorship’s research projects is always a collaboration in a triple-helix setting —in addition to the thematic international perspective or collaboration with international partners. By this we mean our own organisation (students/lecturers), companies (emphasis on local small and medium-sized), and government (regional, national, and European level).

At the level of the university of applied sciences, the professorship works together closely with lecturers from different study programmes and minors of the Academy of Commerce & International Business. Additionally, the professorship works together with other professorships of NHL Stenden. The professorship also works with student research groups, from its own academy, but also with students from excellency programmes such as X-Honours and claim your future. The professorship collaborates outside of the organisation as well, in research groups with Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Windesheim, Fontys, and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences.

Naturally, the professorship works together with local companies. Representatives of local small and medium-sized businesses in Friesland and Drenthe participate in (almost) all research projects carried out by this professorship. The research questions are often raised by these companies and/or the results are to their benefit.

The same goes for the collaboration with the local government. The professorship is in frequent contact with the province of Friesland. For instance, with a collaboration in the project International Trade Support (ITS), subsidised by the province. The government helps formulate the research questions and the results are also shared with the local government, in the form of a concrete recommendation for provincial policies.

Research method

The professorship’s practice-based research benefits local stakeholders and the research outcomes are often directly applicable to the area. For instance, by adjusting the local policies (governmental level), by applying recommendations and giving practical solutions (company level), or by providing input for an even more goal-orientated study programme (university of applied sciences level). A collaboration in triple-helix context is therefore visible in almost all research projects that are created by this professorship. The professorship and the research group can be viewed as the connecting element where expertise, experience, and knowledge input from different parties are being converged, requested, and displayed.

The professorship uses the Design Based Research strategy as the research method where possible.


NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Academy of Commerce & International Business

Dr. Mariska van der Giessen (professor of applied sciences)
email :

Team members

  • Dr. Mariska van der Giessen, lector
  • Peter de Boer
  • Prantik Bordoloi
  • Gert-Jan Hummel
  • Letty Nijhuis
  • Klaas van der Pijl
  • Shilpa Samplonius - Raut
  • Annigje Roest
  • Ronald Noppers
  • Letty Nijhuis