Associate Professor Retha de Villiers Scheepers | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Associate Professor Retha de Villiers Scheepers

PhD Stell., MCom Potchef., HonsCL(Mktg) Potchef., BComm Potchef.

  • Associate Professor, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management
  • Associate Dean, Research
  • School of Business and Creative Industries
+61 7 5430 1267
Office location
SD K.1.08A
Sunshine Coast
Retha Scheepers

Associate Professor Retha de Villiers Scheepers research interests focus on entrepreneurial decision-making in different contexts, specifically innovation within existing and new business contexts. Examining established businesses, she has studied the antecedents of corporate entrepreneurship, digital innovation and the performance outcomes. Considering venture start-up, her research focuses primarily how individuals attract resources (social, human and capital) as they progress their start-ups using effectuation.

She draws on her research and insights to teach entrepreneurship and innovation courses at undergraduate and post-graduate level. Her exemplary teaching and commitment to teaching entrepreneurship experientially has been recognised and awarded in 2015 by the National Office of Learning and Teaching Citation: For inspiring entrepreneurship students to create their future by crafting authentic learning opportunities that motivate, engage and empower. Her learning and teaching leadership has also been internationally recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow.

Retha has been lead investigator in four research grant projects that examine the evolution of regional entrepreneurship ecosystems and how heterogeneous groups of entrepreneurs gain resources and collaborate with other entrepreneurs and economic development actors. Her research also extends to how entrepreneurial careers develop and she has been a co-investigator on a project investigating veteran entrepreneur transitions. She has led five Learning and Teaching grant projects focusing on entrepreneurial mindset development and employability.

Retha works closely with industry to translate research findings into relevant outcomes to ensure impact. Her commitment to industry engagement and development has been recognised by the USC Vice-Chancellor and President’s Award for Engagement (2015) and the ATEM Tribal Award for Excellence in Community Engagement.

She has published widely producing industry reports, book chapters and journal papers in journals such as Journal of Cleaner Production, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, and Education and Training, to name a few. She serves a reviewer for several journals and supervises HDR students from Australia, South Africa and Salzburg.

Awards and Memberships

  • HEA Senior Fellowship, 2019, Higher Education Academy
  • Digital Champion 2017-2019, Community engagement contributing towards the development and support of digital start-ups, Advance Queensland
  • Vice Chancellor and President’s Award for Excellence in Engagement, 2015, University of the Sunshine Coast
  • OLT Citation Award for Outstanding Contribution to student learning. 2015
    Citation Title: For inspiring entrepreneurship students to create their future by crafting authentic learning opportunities that motivate, engage and empower.
  • Association for Tertiary Education Management (ATEM) 2015 - Tribal Award for Excellence in Community Engagement.
  • Best paper award – De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., Verreynne, M.L. & Maree, L. 2013. Networks, Effectuation and Innovation Performance. Paper presented at 30th Pan Pacific Business Conference, Johannesburg, South Africa, 3-6 June 2013.
  • Best paper award – Track: Entrepreneurship Education, Training and Support: De Villiers Scheepers, M.J. & Strydom, L. 2012. Getting Team Creative Skills to Stick: a quasi-experimental study. Paper presented at 51rst ICSB Conference (International Council of Small Business), Wellington, New Zealand, 8-10 July 2012.
  • Best Paper Award – Track: Corporate Entrepreneurship: Oostenbrink, M., De Villiers Scheepers, MJ & Boshoff, C. 2012. Entrepreneurial decision-making of female intrapreneurs. Paper presented at 51rst ICSB Conference (International Council of Small Business), Wellington, New Zealand, 8-10 July 2012.

Professional Social Media

Writes for 'The Conversation'

  1. Apple is trying to reclaim its major innovator status (by making you wash your hands), 25 June 2020
  2. The new iPhone is the cheapest yet: smart move, or a premium tech brand losing its way?, 17 April 2020

Potential Research Projects for HDR and Honours students

  • Digital innovation and transformation in established organisations
  • Born digital and disruptive startups
  • Regional entrepreneurship ecosystem emergence
  • Entrepreneurial decision-making and action
  • Sustainability as a driver of small firm innovation
  • Small firm resilience through business model adaptation and innovation

External Research Grants

Project name


Funding body



Regional reputation and media portrayal as a facilitator of economic development

Barnes, R., De Villiers Scheepers, M.J. and Tracey, N.

2021 Moreton Bay Regional Council (A$137,500)


Develop a measurement framework and benchmark regional reputation longitudinally and ascertain how the region is portrayed in the media to inform regional transformation and economic development.

Collaborative scenario-planning: Empowering economic development actors.

Dugmore, H., De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., Grace, A. and Durbidge, L.

2021 Moreton Bay Regional Council (A$45,000)


Investigate how collaborative scenario planning, can be used to pursue ambitious regional development goals through public entrepreneurship and how communication strategies can mitigate the risks associated with ambitious regional development.

Queensland Regional Innovation Benchmark (QRIB) 2020.

De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., De Klerk, S., Daniel, L., Tracey, N., Jenner, P., Renando, C. and Verreynne, ML.

2020 Advance Queensland Regional Network Fund, Lead: SCRC.

Final report


Longitudinal research focuses on measuring regional firm innovation, comparing five Queensland regions and assesses the community resilience of regional entrepreneurship ecosystems based on economic, social and institutional dimensions.

Greater Whitsunday Region: Regional innovation benchmark research report 2020-2021.

De Villiers Scheepers, M.J, De Klerk, S., Renando, C. and Verreynne, ML.

Greater Whitsunday Alliance (A$17,500)

Final report


Regional business innovation of firms in the Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday region was benchmarked, the community resilience of its ecosystem assessed and case studies of innovative firm practises examined.

Business Resilience in Times of Crisis, Innovate Moreton Bay.

De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., Tracey, N. and Mahony, I.

Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism, (A$20,000)

Final Report


Small firm resilience and business model adaptation during the COVID-19 pandemic were examined.

Entrepreneurial talent and capacity development in the Moreton Bay ecosystem. Innovate Moreton Bay.

De Villiers Scheepers, M.J. & Tracey, N.

MBRIT-USC Industry Connect (A$10,000)

Final Report


Entrepreneurship talent and support in the Moreton Bay region was investigated through a) identifying the diverse role-players who contribute towards increasing entrepreneurial activity; b) inspiring entrepreneurial capacity with a focus on grass-roots skills development; and c) engaging the local business community.

The dynamics of regional innovation: Entrepreneurial diversity, performance and collaboration.

De Villiers Scheepers, M.J, De Klerk, S., Daniel, L., Jenner, P, and Verreynne ML.

SCRC, Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Program (A$79,980)

Report 2019

Report 2020


Regional innovation in the Sunshine Coast regional is benchmarked in this longitudinal study by comparing firm innovation, and collaborative innovation strategies investigated in priority industries.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Work Integrated Learning Models.

De Villiers Scheepers, M.J; Team Members: Barnes, R. & Clements M.

Australian Cooperative Education Network (ACEN) (A$10,000)

Final Report


An experiential entrepreneurship WIL model is proposed and investigated to develop graduates’ ability to proactively navigate their careers.

Assessing entrepreneurship support programs as a means to stimulate economic development.

De Villiers Scheepers, M.J.; Team Members: Lawrence, A., Mealy, E. & Clements, M.

SCRC-USC Collaborative research grant (A$19,800)

Final Report

2016 - 2017

Maps the Sunshine Coast’s regional entrepreneurship ecosystem; Compares three SEQ ecosystems using a case study design; Examines the quality of support by capturing the voice of the entrepreneurs and develop entrepreneurial firm personas to improve the design and value proposition of support programs.

Gathering valid data for quality enhancement:  Assessing, reviewing, benchmarking and closing the loop for assurance of learning in regional universities

Lawson, R., De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., Glavas, C. and Taylor, T.

Extension grant (OLT) (A$30,000)


Improve the quality of business and management programs in regional universities through reviewing and benchmarking

Systematic review proposal on 'A review and synthesis of research and practice: Linking organisations' strategic plans with a shared vision for a sustainable future'

Linnenluecke, M., Verreynne, ML, De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., Gronum, S. and Venter, C.

Network for Business Sustainability South Africa (NBS) (A$25,000)


Review and synthesis of perspectives on organisations' approaches to sustainability

Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ Survey (GUESSS), South African Chapter

De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., Solomon, G. and De Vries, A. (Project Leader)

Van Schaik Entrepreneurship & Innovation Grant


South African data collection and report of the largest global research project about student entrepreneurship.

Teaching areas

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Innovation Management

Selected Research Publications

• Letcher, B., De Villiers Scheepers, M.J & Graham, W. 2021. Small firm coopetition – the missing links: coopetitive tension, balance and value. Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing.

• De Villiers Scheepers, M.J. & Barnes, R. & Garrett, L. 2021. Decoding the nascent entrepreneurship pitch. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research, 27(8):1963-1957.

• De Villiers Scheepers, M.J. & Barnes, R. 2018. Preparing future-ready graduates through experiential entrepreneurship. Education + Training, 60(4):303-317.

• Barnes, R. and De Villiers Scheepers 2018. Tackling uncertainty for journalism graduates: A model for teaching experiential entrepreneurship. Journalism Practice, Jan: p.1-21.

• De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., Boshoff, C. & Oostenbrink, M. 2017. Entrepreneurial women’s cognitive ambidexterity: Career and cultural influence. South African Journal of Business Management, 48(4):21-33.

• Linnenleucke, M., Verreynne, M-L., De Villiers Scheepers, M.J. & Venter, C. 2017. A review of collaborative planning approaches for transformative change: towards a sustainable future. Journal of Cleaner Production, 142: 3212-3224.

• De Villiers Scheepers, M.J., Verreynne, M-L & Meyer, D. 2014. Entrepreneurial Configurations of Small Firms. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, 20(6):562 – 583.

• De Villiers Scheepers, M.J. 2012. Antecedents of Strategic Corporate Entrepreneurship. European Business Review. 5(24):400-424.

• De Villiers-Scheepers, M.J. 2011. Motivating Intrapreneurs: The Relevance of Rewards. Industry and Higher Education. 25(4):249-263.

• Morris, M.H., Van Vuuren, J., Cornwall, J. & Scheepers, R. 2009. Properties of Balance necessary for Corporate Entrepreneurship. Business Horizons. 52, 5:429-440.

• Scheepers, M.J., Hough, J. & Bloom, J.Z. 2008. Nurturing the corporate entrepreneurship capability. Southern African Business Review, 12(3):50-75.


Retha’s specialist areas of knowledge include regional business innovation, digital business transformation, entrepreneurial decision-making and regional economic development.

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