Netherlands: PhD Position in Entrepreneurial Decision Making at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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Job description

As a PhD candidate, you are invited to contribute to the Innovation, Technology Entrepreneurship & Marketing (ITEM) group’s research program focusing on decision making in new product and business development processes. The PhD position is linked to the chair of Prof. Dr. Fred Langerak in the School of Industrial Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology. The PhD project focuses on the psychology of entrepreneurial decision-making.

The overall goal of this dissertation is to develop an individual-level decision model including entrepreneurial emotions, cognitive decision styles, and entrepreneurial decision outcomes. The model should be empirically grounded and a quantitative-experimental approach is preferred to a qualitative approach. Together, the three studies in this dissertation examine the causal effects between cognitive-emotive factors and entrepreneurial decision making. The results of this dissertation research will contribute to entrepreneurship theory and support entrepreneurs to improve their decision quality from a psychological perspective.

Study 1: Entrepreneurs decide and act in highly complex and uncertain environments. In such situations, entrepreneurs cannot follow well-learned and structured procedures, but instead often have to rely on their gut feeling. While gut feelings typically do not provide good arguments for why entrepreneurs make a certain decision or why they pursue a certain type of action, they can nevertheless lead to better judgments and decision outcomes than analytic-rational considerations. In other situations, analytical processing may be the superior decision style to intuitive processing. Hence, the first project of this dissertation entails identifying which decision-making style is superior in typical entrepreneurial decision situations.

Study 2: The use of decision style depends on entrepreneurs’ general preferences, but also on individual, situational characteristics. For instance, emotional states can determine if entrepreneurs rely on their intuition or if they engage in systematic processing. Current research argues that positive emotions trigger the use of intuitive and heuristic processing, while negative emotions rather stimulate analytic and rational processing. Therefore, the second project of this dissertation aims to understand how specific emotions influence the use of decision styles in entrepreneurial decision making.

Study 3: While empirical research on entrepreneurial emotions is on the rise, investigations about entrepreneurial decision styles have largely focused on the concept of effectuation. However, the situational use of intuitive and analytical processing in entrepreneurial decision making – in contrast to effectuation – and its emotional influences have been neglected. Therefore, the final project seeks to build on the results of projects 1 and 2 as well as on previous research on these topics in related areas (possibly involving a meta-analysis) with the goal to develop a conceptual model representing the cognitive-emotive influences on entrepreneurial decision making. This project will significantly advance entrepreneurship theory and deliver general implications for entrepreneurial decision-making.

These studies should lead to at least three academic papers that can be published in top scholarly journals and, of course, a successful PhD defense after four years. The candidate also participates in the PhD education program and is moderately involved in teaching entrepreneurship courses at the bachelor and master level. A stay abroad is potentially part of the PhD project.


The School of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences at Eindhoven University of Technology is one of the longest-established engineering schools in Europe, with a strong presence in the international research and education community, especially in the field of Innovation Management & Technology Entrepreneurship, which are at the core of the undergraduate BSc program. The graduate programs (MSc and PhD) in Innovation Management attract top-level students from all over the world. Researchers are member of the KNAW accredited Beta research school.


The ITEM group is part of the School of Industrial Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology. The group consists of about 18 fte faculty and 10 fte PhD’s who participate in and contribute to the research, educational and service program of the ITEM group. The program on New Product and Business Development Processes is one of the leading programs in the world in its field. The program emphasizes means for measuring and improving the process of conceiving, developing, and launching new products and businesses. As such, it encompasses both strategic and operational activities of new product and business development. While the program covers the full range of establishing new products and its underlying design, and the development and commercialization processes in (new) businesses, its primary focus is on high-tech products.

More information can be found at


Applicants should have completed (or be close to completion of) a master’s degree in entrepreneurship, psychology, management, economics, industrial engineering, innovation sciences, or similar social sciences degree, with a solid background in qualitative and quantitative research methods. Ability to speak Dutch is highly appreciated, fluency in English is required.

Conditions of employment

We offer a PhD appointment for a period of 4 years with a target start date June 1st, 2014 and a gross salary in the range of €29.000 – €37.000 per annum (on a full-time basis), this includes 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end of year allowance. Working at Eindhoven University of Technology means working in a professional environment that stimulates people to engage in innovation. We offer a broad package of fringe benefits, including an excellent IT infrastructure, child care, moving expenses, savings schemes, and excellent sports facilities.

Additional information

Please upload a cover letter, curriculum vitae, two recommendation letters and a course list of your master program by using the apply now button on the TU/e website before March 31st, 2014. Applications sent by email will not be accepted.

For inquiries about the position

Contact daily supervisor Dr. Theresa Treffers (, School of Industrial Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology.

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