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Strategic Entrepreneurship in Family Firms

Course overview

In a fast-changing environment, traditional business skills might not cut it. In a world where yesterday is not the same as tomorrow, opportunity recognition and seizing come vital. In the ever-changing business landscape innovation is the only way to survive. This complex environment requires business leaders with the ability to make sense of their environment, interpret what is happening around them and be flexible in their activities. These skills overlap with those usually attributed to entrepreneurs and their activities in uncertain, high-velocity environments. The concept of strategic entrepreneurship was first coined by Hitt et. al (2001) and describes a manager’s behaviour which is both opportunity- as well as advantage-seeking. Many scholars since have identified the beneficial effect of acting entrepreneurial in a corporate setting. Therefore it is surprising that most schools of thought still make the distinction between a corporate management route and an entrepreneurial start-up route, while it is in the cross-section of the two fields most learning and competency building can happen. Managers that act entrepreneurial and entrepreneurs that act more strategical are combining the best of both worlds. This course, therefore, examines the impact of strategic entrepreneurial behaviour on business success as well as examines traits and competencies associated with “acting entrepreneurial”.

The course does this in a specific context of Family Firms. In the US alone there are 5.5 million family firms which account for 57% of the GDP and 67% of the workforce. This specific group of firms faces additional challenges as they not only have to deal with the owner and management aspect of the firm but also need to take care of the family aspect of the firm. Next to this family firms have a different outlook on what constitutes success as compared to non-family firms which have wide-ranging implications for their views on strategy, innovation, and management.

Academic year


Duration and dates

2 weeks from June 24 to July 5, 2024

Teaching format

face-to-face on-campus


Prof. Dr. Anita van Gils and Dr. Roy Broersma


Anita Van Gils, PhD

Anita Van Gils is a Professor in Family Business and Strategic Entrepreneurship at the School of Business and Economics of Maastricht University. Next to fulfilling the role of Master programmes director, she has been a teacher and coach for the schools’ undergraduate case competition teams. With her focus on strategic entrepreneurship, she aims to strengthen the competitive position of family businesses. Her research efforts contribute to the establishment of strong relationships between business families, their firms, and the different stakeholders. Topics central to her studies are entrepreneurship, innovation, strategy, governance, and sustainability. Her research has resulted in international publications in journals and books, amongst which in Family Business Review and Journal of Family Business Strategy.

Roy Broersma, PhD

Dr. Roy Broersma (1985) is the operational manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Maastricht University. In his position dr. Broersma is responsible for the three main strategic activities of the Centre; Educate, Incubate and Innovate. These three activities combine the academic focus of Roy in teaching and supporting entrepreneurship throughout his academic career. Next to this Roy has a research background in the topics of SMEs, innovation, strategy receiving his PHD from Maastricht University in 2019. A major drive for Roy is building an entrepreneurial eco-system around Maastricht University combining efforts from government, knowledge institutes and entrepreneurs. in his free time Roy is a more than average tennisplayer, podcast host and festival organizer.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course a student should be able to:

  1. Gain a deeper understanding of the following concepts:
    • Strategic Entrepreneurship
    • SMEs and Family Firms
    • Opportunity Recognition and Exploitation
    • Innovation
    • Creativity
  2. Identify and analyse strategic issues innovative SMEs and family firms are facing.
  3. Present solutions to these SMEs/family firms in a clear and concise matter
  4. Coordinate teamwork assignments in a multi-cultural setting

Course content

This two weeks course will contain a mix of interactive lectures, workshops, company presentations & assignments. The focus of the teaching method will be on interactivity between students, academics, and practitioners. This requires an active mindset by the students as the value of the learning experience is in part determined by their preparation, engagement with the subject matter, and active participation.

Course value


Required background

Students are required to have completed one semester of coursework at master level in one of the participating business schools.


Students will be evaluated based on:

  1. Their participation and active attitude during the course, as reviewed by the academic staff
  2. Their performance in both cases presentations, as reviewed by academic staff and practitioners.
  3. The evaluation of both case papers, as reviewed by academic staff.


There are no required texts. Students will be informed of any recommended prior readings on confirmation of enrolment.

Extra cost


Miscellaneous information

a. The location for the course is Maastricht University SBE Campus which is divided over both Tongersestraat 53 and Tapijnkazerne. b. Accommodation and travel have to be arranged by the participants c. Social events are not mandatory and are not included in the price of the program.

About the School

The Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE) provides high-quality education to students and conducts excellent research, offering an international perspective in the fields of economics and international business management, public policy, governance and sustainability.

Our research focuses on interdisciplinary solutions to today’s global challenges.  SBE’s approach revolves around small-scale teaching methods supported by an electronic learning environment, a portfolio of international study   programmes, and strong incentives for top-quality research.

The focus lies on educational innovation. All degree programmes make use of Problem-Based Learning, with an emphasis on skills development – problem solving, group work, and self-directed learning – to prepare students optimally for the European and international knowledge society.