The International Entrepreneurship professorship was formed towards the end of 2017 with the inauguration of Mariska van der Giessen as its professor of applied sciences. With six lecturer-researchers located at Leeuwarden and Emmen, the professorship is embedded in the Academy of Commerce & International Business and works closely with the Vital Regions professorships.

The research projects in the International Entrepreneurship professorship focus on local research and international outlooks. This means collaborating not only with international partners, but also on research projects taking an internationally comparative perspective initiated 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, particularly European trade partners. In rural areas of the Netherlands, themes such as international entrepreneurship, conducting business, and import and export are extremely important.

In most cases, Dutch companies that refrain from exploring international opportunities lack growth perspective in the long run. It is therefore imperative that companies explore international opportunities or continue growing in this area. This is not a new insight and companies in regions such as the provinces of Friesland and Drenthe are well aware of the fact. However, many companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses, struggle with practical, everyday challenges when it comes to conducting business outside of the Netherlands or increasing their international activities. For this reason, the focus of this professorship’s research lies on exploring the challenges these Dutch companies face when operating internationally or starting 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?”

The goal of the professorship is therefore as follows:

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


The starting point for the professorship’s research projects is always 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 (with an emphasis on local, small and medium-sized businesses), and government (at regional, national, and European levels).

At a university of applied sciences level, the professorship works closely with lecturers from different study programmes and minors offered by the Academy of Commerce & International Business. It also collaborates with other NHL Stenden professorships and student research groups, both from its own academy and from excellency programmes such as X-Honours and Claim your Future. The professorship also collaborates outside of the organisation in research groups with Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Windesheim, Fontys, and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences.

Naturally, the professorship works with local companies, and representatives from local, small and medium-sized businesses in Friesland and Drenthe participate in practically all of the 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 applies to the collaboration with local government. The professorship is in frequent contact with the province of Friesland, for instance through collaboration in the International Trade Support (ITS) project subsidised by the province. Local government helps formulate the research questions and the results are shared in the form of concrete recommendations for provincial policies.

Research method

The professorship’s practice-based research benefits local stakeholders and the research outcomes are often directly applicable in the local area. They may, for instance, be amendments to local policies at governmental level, recommendations and practical solutions for companies, or input for an even more goal-orientated study programme for a university of applied sciences. Collaboration in this triple-helix context is therefore visible in almost all research projects undertaken by this professorship. The professorship and the research group can be viewed as the connecting element bringing together expertise, experience, and knowledge from different parties.

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
email :

Team members

  • Annigje Roest
  • Gert-Jan Hummel
  • Klaas van der Pijl
  • Peter de Boer
  • Prantik Bordoloi
  • Ronald Noppers
  • Shilpa Samplonius - Raut