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Campus FryslânCentre for Sustainable EntrepreneurshipPhD research

PhD Research

PhD research at Campus Fryslân focuses on the grand challenges of our society. The Faculty’s core philosophy is to connect regional themes with interdisciplinary global issues.

PhD research at the Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship is dedicated to one of the main challenges in the modern world economy: the transformation from an oil- and gas-based economy into a circular society. Sustainable entrepreneurship offers the creative potential needed to develop a circular society in which economic, social, and ecological systems are simultaneously balanced and preserved.

The Centre will offer a range of PhD research projects dedicated to disentangle the causes and consequences of sustainable entrepreneurship. The research is interdisciplinary, multi-level and multi-method in nature.

Margo Enthoven
Margo Enthoven

1. Margo Enthoven

Title: Entrepreneurial opportunity recognition and development for sustainability: a problem-solving approach
1st supervisor: Prof. Gjalt de Jong

"Entrepreneurship aimed at achieving social and environmental goals has the potential to catalyze sustainable development by providing value for society and the environment while achieving economic growth. But what makes entrepreneurship with a sustainability goal successful? During my PhD I want to provide insight into this question by finding which traits characterize a successful sustainable entrepreneur. With this research, I hope to be able to contribute to a more sustainable society."

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Angela Greco
Angela Greco

2. Angela Greco

Title: Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Social Housing
1st supervisor: Prof. Gjalt de Jong

While working on the engineering of energy neutral buildings, I quickly realized that there could not be implementation of sustainable technologies without in-depth consideration of business and human factors.

“Responsibility is the ability to respond to your community, sustainability is the ability to sustain your community” is one of my favorite quotes on sustainability. With my PhD I will study sustainable entrepreneurship applied to the field of social housing. Particularly I will explore the role that housing corporations play in the transition to a low carbon economy and in sustainable welfare and poverty reduction in city neighborhoods.

I believe that developing solutions to sustainability issues and creating value at the same time, is today s challenge if we want to make this so needed transition happen.

Femke Vrenegoor
Femke Vrenegoor

3. Femke Vrenegoor

Title: Evaluating how the attitudes of micro and small sized accommodation entrepreneurs translate into sustainable behaviour
1st supervisor: Prof. Gjalt de Jong
2nd supervisor: Dr. Elena Cavagnaro

"Since sustainability has been a trend for many years now, we can see that in the hospitality industry it has also taken an important place in the daily operations of hotels. Hotel entrepreneurs choose to engage in CSR for many different reasons, and some of these entrepreneurs make the choice to get their sustainability efforts certified with for example a Green Key certificate. However, not all entrepreneurs will try to reach the highest level possible within the certificate, or push to reach more than the minimum number of required criteria within their level.

My research will try to understand the reasons for this behaviour, and evaluate whether these reasons can be connected to their motivation to engage CSR in the first place. Once the motivations of the hotel entrepreneur and their behaviour are understood, I wish to try to nudge them to more sustainable ecolabel application.

In my research I have chosen to focus on SME hotels as they comprise a large portion of the total amount of hotels in the Netherlands."

Hendrik Thelken
Hendrik Thelken

4. Hendrik Thelken

Title: The process of intention formation in sustainable entrepreneurship
1st supervisor: Prof. Gjalt de Jong

"One of the central questions in sustainable entrepreneurship research is why some individuals become sustainable entrepreneurs, while others found a conventional firm or do not become entrepreneurs at all. In my research I therefore look at intentions to start sustainable enterprises, which allows me to work very interdisciplinary as I combine theories and ideas from entrepreneurship, sustainability sciences and psychology.

The central questions are, where the intentions to start a sustainable enterprise come from and whether these factors leading to such intentions can be stimulated or learned. In answering these questions I would like to help practitioners, teachers and public authorities with the promotion of sustainable entrepreneurship "

Manon Eikelenboom
Manon Eikelenboom

5. Manon Eikelenboom

Title: Internal capabilities for sustainable and circular business
1st supervisor: Prof. Gjalt de Jong

In order to achieve a sustainable development of our society, businesses need to be involved. However, implementing sustainability can be a difficult task for companies as combining social, environmental and economic goals may require extensive resources and cause complexities as well as contradictories. For example, focussing on the reuse of materials in houses may have negative social impacts such as a decreased feeling of comfort. In order to successfully balance social, environmental and economic goals, companies need to be adaptive and able to deal with continuous change.

In my PhD I will analyse the internal firm capabilities that help businesses achieving a balance between social, environmental and economic goals. I will focus on dynamic capacities, internal actors including leaders and employees, and new business strategies and models.

Hellen Dawo
Hellen Dawo

6. Hellen Dawo

Title: Sustainable entrepreneurship: Opportunities to facilitate ecological, socio-cultural and economic development in a protected nature area.
1st supervisor: Prof. Gjalt de Jong

In some instances, protected nature areas also have a human population. A settled nature area provides a unique context in which to study sustainable entrepreneurship. Here, man and nature interact closely, in a sensitive ecosystem. This interplay faces ecological, socio-cultural and economic challenges. Climate change, ecological ecosystem depletion, cultural erosion, unemployment, population and economic decline are examples of the 'wicked problems' such areas face. These challenges require tools that consider the three dimensions of sustainability, that is, ecological , socio-cultural and economic dimensions. Sustainable entrepreneurship is such a tool that could solve these 'wicked problems'. However, for small and medium sized entrepreneurs, combining these dimensions in their business plans is a problem. They lack sufficient resources and knowledge with which to operate sustainably.

My study will investigate the environment in which small and medium sized entrepreneurs in protected nature areas exist, in order to identify the challenges they face in achieving the three dimensions of sustainability. It will then use this, as a base to explore the ways the entrepreneurial environment could be improved, using collaboration and innovative business models.

7. Monique de Ritter

Title: Mission-driven entrepreneurship in ecosystems for sustainable systems change.
1st supervisor: Prof. Gjalt de Jong

In this time of systems change entrepreneurs can contribute to finding solutions for challenges the world faces. Focusing on technology is not sufficient, when we do not address organizing principles to change the way of doing business and stimulating innovation. This PhD research has been carried out with the assumption that current and still dominant organizing principles based on hierarchies in business and society are inadequate or even counter-effective in achieving a more sustainable economy. Thereto, this dissertation introduces a five-layered conceptual model based on systems thinking that offers a guidance to identify and analyze the organizing principles needed for sustainable systems change. The main aim of this research was to obtain in-depth insights into how this conceptual model works in practice, with an emphasis on the meso-level (ecosystem) and how this level connects the micro-level (mission-driven entrepreneur) and macro-level (sustainable systems change). The research has found that the ecosystem indeed plays an important role in leveraging the initiatives of mission-driven entrepreneurs for sustainable systems change. New skills and knowledge are needed in order to effectively apply organizational principles, such as deep collaboration and networking, to working in ecosystems. This dissertation shows that mission-driven entrepreneurs are inspiring change agents in the system with their company as a vehicle for change. However, for more systemic change needed for a sustainable economy, it is necessary to work together in ecosystems. The idea here is that there will be a far-reaching collaboration between various organizations, both from the private and the public sector, both large companies and smaller enterprises. These organizations therewith transcend the boundaries of traditional industries and are instead organized around a specific issue or theme. However, collaboration in ecosystems does not happen by itself; specific knowledge and skills are needed, such as systems thinking, network approaches, and leading multiparty dialogues.

Complete thesis: https://www.rug.nl/research/portal/files/93420551/Complete_thesis.pdf

Last modified:20 August 2019 2.35 p.m.