EPICC Project

The EPICC Project; Entrepreneurial Processes in a Cultural Context

Click here for the profiles of the participating students

Project leaders


Dr. Rainer Harms                  Martin Stienstra Msc

Entrepreneurial processes describe the sequence of activities and decisions that lead from an initial idea to a venture. Previous research suggests that entrepreneurs work in a way in which they have a very good idea of what sort of market can be served. They also seem to know which resources they should gather to succeed. This can lead to an assumption that the entrepreneurs are in control of the situation now and in the future.

However, more recent research on entrepreneurial processes has begun to explore that assumption, one example being recent work around "effectuation". The research on effectuation shows that entrepreneurs might also work in different ways. They work with means available, are not specifically focused on a market and are not so much concerned on keeping control over what happens in the future.  This stresses the importance of entrepreneurs' perceptions, rather than the environmental reality, on shaping the entrepreneurial process.

It is well established that one influence on perception is national culture, and therefore this suggests that national culture might also have a major influence on entrepreneurial processes. For example, some countries have a different perception on hierarchy than others; some countries show a difference in how to deal with uncertainty, whilst others have different emphases concerning the perception of time.

The EPICC research project seeks to explore the extent to which this indeed is the case. There are clear implications for both theory and practice of entrepreneurship should the hypothesis be proven, that the entrepreneurial process is indeed impacted by cultural background. Education and consulting would have to be adapted to suit a particular target group, whilst theories of entrepreneurship would need to take this cultural contextual dimension more seriously.

UT Nieuws: There’s an article published on the EPICC project. Click here to view the article.

Method & study approach
The focus for this study is "student entrepreneurs". In some universities, special programs are in place to help out students starting their own programs, whilst other universities have companies started by students independently of university support.  In the absence of actual student entrepreneurs, it is also possible to use 'nascent entrepreneurs', namely students that have expressed a serious interest in starting a business. 

The study is being conducted by Masters' students in Business Administration, at the University of Twente (the Netherlands) . The research is overseen by Dr. Rainer Harms & Martin Stienstra Msc (Project leaders EPICC & staff members of NIKOS). This assignment has been especially designed for Masters' students enrolled in programs in the field of Business Administration, Innovation & Entrepreneurship or International Management, or in minors involving international entrepreneurship.

Data-gathering involves collecting think-aloud verbal protocols, in which the sample group is asked to work on a case that deals with entrepreneurial processes. This, together with an interview (max duration of both components; 2 hours) is analyzed and coded.

Currently, the research is executed in a diverse range of countries (e.g. Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Macedonia, Germany, England and The Netherlands). Within these and other countries we work with partnerships with universities interested in the findings. We are currently seeking such partners in other countries willing to host our researchers. 


For further information, please contact Rainer Harms via r.harms@utwente.nl or Martin Stienstra via m.r.stienstra@utwente.nl. We can also be reached on Tel  +31 (0)53-4893534 or secretary; +31 (0)53-4895355 Fax +31 (0)53-4892159

International Entrepreneurship & Management (part of NIKOS / MG / University of  Twente) A-building, room LA A 223. PO Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, the Netherlands

Stienstra, M.R., Harms,R. (2011). National culture and its influence on entrepreneurial processes. Proceedings of the 25th conference on RESEARCH IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND SMALL BUSINESS (RENT), Bodo, Norway, November 16-18, 2011.

Stienstra, M.R. (2011). National culture and its influence on entrepreneurial processes; effectuation and causation in an international perspective. Proceedings of the 14th conference on International entrepreneurship, Odense (Denmark). September 16-18, 2011.