Professor Simon Collinson

Professor Simon Collinson

The Department of Strategy and International Business
Director of the West Midlands Regional Economic Development Institute (WMREDI) and City-REDI
Professor of International Business and Innovation

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Collinson is currently on sabbatical and he has resigned his position as Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Regional Engagement. 

Simon is the Director of the West Midlands Regional Economic Development Institute (WMREDI) and City-REDI at Birmingham Business School, where he was Dean 2012-2016. He has held various roles, including: Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, member of the ESRC Council and the GBS Chamber of Commerce Council. Simon is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA), the Chartered Association of Business Schools (C-ABS) and the British Academy of Management (FBAM).

In his DPVC role Simon leads on regional and civic engagement at the University, including its contribution in a ‘place-based’ industrial strategy.

In the past 5 years, he has been awarded over £15 mill in research funding, including internal university funding, a RED award from Research England and two major ESRC project awards. WMREDI was established in 2019 with a £5 million award from Research England (UKRI) together with funding from regional partners and matched funding from the university; a total package of over £11.5 mill. It builds on the work of City-REDI.

Simon’s research and consulting focuses on multinational firms, productivity, innovation, competitiveness and regional economic growth. As well as publishing in leading journals, including the Journal of International Business Studies, Research Policy, Organisation Studies and Business History his research has featured in the Financial Times, Sunday Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC Radio 4, and the New Statesman.


Professor Simon Collinson was Dean of Birmingham Business School from 2012-2016 and then took on the roles of Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Regional Engagement for the University of Birmingham and Director of the City-Region Economic Development Institute (City-REDI). More recently he was awarded funding to establish WMREDI. He is a Professor of International Business and Innovation in the Department of Strategy and International Business.

Simon is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA), the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS; which previously chaired) and the British Academy of Management (BAM). He is a Council Member of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and a member of the ESRC Strategic Advisory Network (SAN). In recent years he has sat on several Policy Commissions and Advisory Groups serving the West Midlands Combined Authority and Chaired by the Mayor, including the Brexit and Covid-19 economic response groups.


Simon taught International Business, Strategy and Innovation at the Undergraduate, MSc and MBA levels from the late-1990s to 2012. He was awarded the ‘Outstanding MBA Teacher’ Award (6 times between 2003 and 2010) from Warwick Business School. He has held External Examiner roles at Tanaka School of Business, Imperial College, London (2005-09); the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex (2006-09) and the University of Edinburgh Business School (2008-10).

Simon has supervised over 200 MBA and MSc dissertations as well as five PhD students to completion.

Executive Education

Currently teaching on a small number of executive programmes at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University, Simon has worked for over 20 years as a consultant to, or taught, a range of firms in the areas of international business, strategy, innovation and organisational change. He has also led the Dean’s Development Programme (3DP) nationally for the Chartered Association of Business Schools.

Major clients include:

A.T.Kearney (London), GKN (Sinter), GEC-Marconi, HSBC (London and Hong-Kong), IBM, Jones Lang LaSalle, Kodak (Japan), Lloyds Register, Mettler-Toledo (Zurich), Philips, Sony, United Distillers (and Diageo), YKK (London).

Simon has taught on executive programmes at Warwick Business School, Henley Business School (University of Reading) and is a regular contributor to Judge Executive programmes at Judge Business School, Cambridge University.

Recent client firms include Guangfa Bank of China, Aviation Industry Consortium (AVIC), China and ING. He was Director of the Pru-U; the Prudential’s main executive education programme for EMEA (2002-06) at Warwick. 


Simon Collinson submitted three ABS 4* and one ABS 3* outputs for the 2014 REF. This builds on a long-term pipeline of outputs bridging the fields of innovation management, international business and organisation studies. His articles have appeared in a wide range of scholarly journals including Research Policy, Journal of International Business Studies, Organisation Studies and Business History. He has sat on the Editorial Boards of three leading journals.

Over the past 5 years Simon has established and is Director of City-REDI and more recently WMREDI. With over 20 staff these institutes provide policy and practice support to regional organisations, focusing on balancing growth in productivity with inclusivity and sustainability.  

Professor Collinson's main areas of interest, present to past:

  • economic development and inclusive growth in UK regions
  • the role of universities in strengthening regional innovation
  • the civic contributions of UK universities
  •  global innovation strategies, R&D and knowledge management in multinational firms;
  • comparative organisation studies and the international competitiveness of UK firms;
  • national systems of innovation and emerging economies;
  • high-technology entrepreneurship, small firm networks and regional development.
  • Japan and China: local business practices and cross-cultural management, foreign direct investment and economic change.
  • Simon was also a member of the Board of Directors for the ESRC / EPSRC – funded Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) research for over 5 years.

After focusing on Japan (1991-2001) Simon developed an interest in how Chinese firms evolve innovation-related capabilities in collaboration with Western firms. He has studied China-related trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), including market-entry strategies for China and the internationalisation of Chinese firms. He was appointed Guangbiao Chair Professor at the School of Management, Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, P.R.China and worked on a range of projects on innovation in the context of China, with faculty and students at Zhejiang.

Simon has won funding awards from Research England, the ESRC, EPSRC, Royal Society, European Commission, Department of Trade and Industry (UK Government), Japanese Science and Technology Agency and the GB Sasakawa Foundation for a range of research projects.

Major research projects

  • The West Midlands Regional Economic Development Institute (WM REDI) (2019-2023). £5 million award from Research England Development (RED) Fund, together with matched funding from the University of Birmingham and regional stakeholders. Total funding amounts to over £11.5 million. Partners are: The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBS LEP), Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, GBS Chambers of Commerce, Business Professional Services consortium (BPS), West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC), The Black Country Consortium Ltd, Aston University and Birmingham City University (BCU). Other partners include Birmingham City Council and the seven metropolitan Local Authorities in the West Midlands, the Midlands Engine and the University of Warwick.
  •  ‘Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs (LIPSIT),’ Birmingham lead, Co-I to P.I. Nigel Gilbert (Surrey) (Oct. 2019 to Sept. 2020). Total £856k FEC, ESRC contribution £708k.
  • ‘Productivity and Prosperity’ project, Birmingham lead, Co-I to P.I. Nigel Driffield at WBS. ESRC grant funding for £800k in total; £400k for City-REDI. 2018-2021. Additional £168k from Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) and Connecting Capabilities Fund (CCF).
  •  Commercialisation: Bridging the University-Industry Gap, £50k ESRC Business Boost Funding.
  •  City-REDI, the City-Region Economic Development Institute. Founding Director of a £4.3 million investment at the University of Birmingham, partnering with regional LEPs, the WMCA, City Councils and private sector firms.
  • The Global Simplicity Index (GSI) funded by the Simplicity Partnership, London (2010-present)
  • Associate Fellow, Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE), Department of Economics, University of Warwick, (one of three WBS faculty contributing to a successful bid for over £6 million ESRC funding over 5 years) (current).
  • Lead Ghoshal Fellow in the Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) research, co-funded by the ESRC and the EPSRC. Project focus on joint capability building in British and Chinese firms (2005-07). This involved three parallel projects, with a total funding of over £210,000.
  • 'Small and Medium Enterprises in Europe and East Asia: Competition, Collaboration and Policy Lessons' (funded by CEC DGXII TSER) (1997-99). Managing a consortium of 8 organisations around the world. (£120,000 funding).
  • 'The Innovative Management of Innovation', comparing leading British and Japanese firms in the telecoms, chemicals, steel and aerospace industries (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Innovation Programme) (1995-98) (£104,000).
  • Awarded a Royal Society - Science and Technology Agency (STA, Japanese Government) Fellowship to extend the Japanese research, hosted by the National Institute for Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP), Tokyo. (£20,000)
  • Forecasting the application of multimedia and its environment to 2010 and beyond (funded by DGXII, the European Commission) (1995-96). (£40,000)
  • Comparison of product development in multimedia technologies by Sony and Philips (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council) (1994-95). (£38,000).
  • Survey of British small-and-medium sized firms (SMEs) in Japan: difficulties of market entry and adaptation to the Japanese business environment (funded by the Industrial Competitiveness Unit, Department of Trade and Industry, UK Government) (1993-94). (£25,000).

Other activities

Engagement with policy and practice


Simon was a member of the Council of the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), the UK's largest organisation for funding (over £200 million) research on economic and social issues. He was appointed for a first term in 2011 and his Council membership has been renewed for a second term until 2018. He remains a member of the Strategic Advisory Network. Over the years his contribution has involved, for example:

  • Taking the role of Evaluation Champion for the ESRC, reporting to the Research Committee and the Capabilities Committee
  • Chairing the ESRC Evaluation Committee
  • Chair of a number of large grant and centre selection panels, including the Enterprise Research Centre commissioned in 2012 and the first ever Transformative Research call sandpit in 2013
  • Membership of the Audit Committee
  • Chair of the Productivity scoping panel in 2015
  • Working on the Council priorities sub-group on the 5-year plan in 2015-16

For more information, visit the ESRC Council website

Chartered Association of Business Schools (C-ABS)

From December 2015 to November 2018, Simon was appointed Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools (C-ABS). C-ABS is ‘the voice of the UK’s business and management education sector’ representing 150 members, including 120 business schools and higher education providers. Its remit is to maintain world-class standards of teaching and research and help shape policy through dialogue with business and government.

The organisation supports professional development, partnership networks and lobbying activities for a sector that contributes £3.25b to the UK economy and represents 1 in 5 university students and over a quarter of Britain’s social scientists.

He also led the Dean’s Development Programme (3DP) nationally for the Chartered Association of Business Schools.

Small Business Charter

Lord Young’s Small Business Charter initiative aims to engage UK Business Schools more closely with the challenges of entrepreneurs and small business managers across the UK. Simon is a member of the Management Board, Chaired by Sir Peter Bonfield, which has met several times at 10 Downing Street.


In 2010 Simon co-founded the Simplicity Partnership, a new London-based consultancy with entrepreneur Melvin Jay. Research into the challenges of international expansion by multinational firms led to an interest in the relationship between organisation complexity and firm performance. This research underpins the diagnostic tools and solutions offered by the Simplicity Partnership, where Simon has been both a Board member and Research Director.

‘From Complexity to Simplicity’ was shortlisted in 2014 for the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) business book of the year prize. This summarizes many years’ work examining how firm performance is constrained by various forms of organizational complexity. 

Contributions to Editorial Boards in the Past:

  • Editorial Board member, Multinational Business Review
  • Editorial Review Board member, Global Strategy Journal.
  • Editorial Board member, European Journal of International Management.
  • Academic reviewer for Journal of International Business Studies, Strategic Management Journal, Organisation Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Research Policy, International Journal of Innovation Management, R&D Management, Science and Public Policy.


Selected Academic outputs since 2009

Liu, Y., Collinson, S., Cooper, C.L and Baglieri, D. (2021) International business, innovation and ambidexterity: A micro-foundational perspective. Editorial introduction to Special Issue, International Business Review, Vol.30, No.1.

Sevinc, D., Green, A., Bryson, J.R., Collinson, S., Riley, R. and Adderley, S. (2020) Ensuring skills are available in the right locations: are we there yet? A regional analysis of qualification gaps, Regional Studies, 54:8, 1149-1159, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2020.1740190

Qamar, A., Hall, M.A., Chicksand, D. and Collinson, S.C. (2020) Quality and flexibility performance trade-offs between lean and agile manufacturing firms in the automotive industry, Production Planning & Control, 31:9, 723-738, DOI: 10.1080/09537287.2019.1681534

Peng, X., Zheng, S., Collinson, S., Wu, X., Wu, D. (2020), Sustained Upgrading of Technological Capability through Ambidextrous Learning for Latecomer Firms, Asian Journal of Technology Innovation, DOI:  10.1080/19761597.2020.1810084

Collinson, S.C., Narula, R. and Rugman, A.M. (2020), International Business (8th Edition), FT Pearson/Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Sevinc, D., Mata Flores, E. and Collinson, S., (2020), Are there inequality spillovers? Evidence through a modified inequality measure and European dynamics of inequality, No 545, Working Papers, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality,

Qamar, A., Hall, M. A., & Collinson, S.C. (2019). Lean versus agile production: flexibility trade-offs within the automotive supply chain. International Journal of Production Research, 1-20.

Bryson, J.R., Green, A., Collinson, S. and Sevinc, D. (2018) England's qualifications gap and its solutions: evidence from the West Midlands. British Politics and Policy at LSE (28 Jun 2018).

Vendrell-Herrero, F., Gomes, E., Collinson, S., Parry, G. (2018). Selling digital services abroad: How do extrinsic attributes influence foreign consumers' purchase intentions? International Business Review, 27:1, 173-185

Elg, U., Ghauri, P., Child, J., Collinson, S.C. (2017). MNE Microfoundations and Routines for Building a Legitimate and Sustainable Position in Emerging Markets. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38:9, 1-18

Collinson, S., Liu, Y. (2017). Recombination for innovation: performance outcomes from international partnerships in China. R&D Management, 49,1, 46-63.

Collinson, S.C (2017) “The Declining Relevance and Legitimacy of IB Scholarship in a World That Really Needs It,” invited lead article in AIB Insights, 17, 2, Academy of International Business.

Collinson, S.C., Narula, R. and Rugman, A.M. (2017) International Business (7th Edition), FT Pearson/Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Collinson, S.C. (2015), Dedication: Yin and Yang: Integrating Disparate Perspectives for International Business Research and Teaching, in Rob Van Tulder, Alain Verbeke, Rian Drogendijk (eds.) The Future of Global Organizing (Progress in International Business Research, Volume 10) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.27 - 35

Collinson, S.C. and Narula, R. (2014), Asset recombination in international partnerships as a source of improved innovation capabilities in China, Multinational Business Review, 22, 4, pp.394 – 417.

Paroutis, S., Mckeown, M. & Collinson, S. (2013). Building Castles from Sand: Unlocking CEO Mythopoetical Behavior in Hewlett Packard from 1978 to 2005. Business History, 55 (7), 1200-1227.

Collinson, S.C. and Wang, R. (J.L.) (2012) ‘Learning Networks and Technological Capability in Multinational Enterprise Subsidiaries’, Research Policy, 41 (9) 1501-1518.

Collinson, S.C. and Rugman, A.M. (2011) 'Relevance and Rigor in International Business Teaching: Using the CSA-FSA Matrix', Journal of Teaching in International Business, 22:1, 29 – 37.

Collinson, S.C., Sullivan-Taylor, B. and Wilson, D.C. (2010) ‘Extending the Integration-Responsiveness Framework: Delivering a Global Service Strategy at British Airways’, Strategic Innovators, 3: 3, p.8-22.

Wang, Q., Collinson, S.C. and Wu, X. (2010) ‘The Rise of Chinese Technology-based Firms: New Institutional and Market Contexts for Innovation,’ Editors Introduction to a Special Issue on Innovation in China, International Journal of Innovation Management, 14: 1, pp. v-x.

Collinson, S.C. and Rugman, A.M. (2010) ‘Case Selection Biases in Management Research: The Implications for International Business Studies’, European Journal of International Management, 4:5, pp. 441-463.

Collinson, S.C. and Rugman, A.M. (2008) ‘The Regional Nature of Japanese Multinational Business’,Journal of International Business Studies(JIBS), 39:2, pp. 215-230, Palgrave.

Collinson, S.C. (2016) Who Benefits When MNEs Partner with Local Enterprises in China? Chapter inChina’s Innovation Challenge: Overcoming the Middle Income Trap, Edited by Arie Y. Lewin, Martin Kenney, and Johann Peter Murmann, Cambridge University Press.

Dale, C., Osegowitsch, T. and Collinson, S. (2014), Disintegration and De-internationalization: Changing Vertical and International Scope and the Case of the Oil and Gas Industry, in Pedersen, T. et al. (ed.) Orchestration of the Global Network Organization (Advances in International Management, Volume 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.487-516

Collinson, S.C. (2013) ‘Cross-Border M&A by the New Multinationals: Different Reasons to ‘Go Global’’ Chapter in Williamson, Ramamurti and Fleurys Re-assessing emerging markets multinationals’ competitive advantages Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Collinson, S.C. and Sun, Y. (2012) ‘Corporate Hybrids and the Co-evolution of Institutions and Enterprise in China’, Chapter in Robert Pearce (ed.) China and the Multinationals: International Business and the Entry of China into the Global Economy, Edward Elgar.

Heracleous, L. and Collinson, S.C. (2009) ‘HSBC's strategy and leadership’, in Singh, K., Panagarkar, N. & Heracleous, L. Business Strategy in Asia. 3rd Edition. Singapore: Cengage.

Collinson, S.C. and Morgan, G. (Eds.) (2009) Images of the Multinational Firm, Wiley, Oxford. A compilation of perspectives from leading authors from international business studies and organisation studies, including John Dunning, Eleanor Westney, John Cantwell, Richard Whitely and Alan Rugman.

Collinson, S.C. (2009) ‘The MNE as the major global promoter of economic development,’ Chapter 4, pp. 69-92, Images of the Multinational Firm, Wiley, Oxford.

Collinson, S.C. and Pettigrew, A.M. (2009) ‘Comparative International Business Research methods: pitfalls and practicalities’, Chapter 27 in Rugman (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of International Business (2nd Edition), Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Selected policy, practice and teaching contributions since 2017 only

Bramley, G., Collinson, S.C., Goddard, J. and Kelly, U. (2020) Scoping the civic impact of the University of Birmingham, Commissioned Report.

Collinson, S.C. (2020) Contagion: The Economic and Social Impacts of Covid-19 on our Region, University of Birmingham Brief.

Chloe Billing, Magda Cepeda Zorrilla, Simon Collinson, Anne Green, Fengjie Pan (2020) Regional Productivity Differences, Skills and Inclusive Growth: Survey Findings. ESRC Grant Ref: ES/S0022.

Collinson, S.C. (2019) Enhancing the Civic Role of UK Universities, University of Birmingham Research Perspectives, March 2019 research/perspective/enhancing-the-civil-role-of-uk-universities.aspx

Collinson, S.C. (2018) Local elections are a chance to address English regional inequality, The Conversation (2/5/2018).

Collinson, S.C. (lead author) (2018) Enhancing the Value of Business and Management Research in the UK, a joint position paper from the British Academy of Management (BAM) and the Chartered ABS.

Collinson, S.C. (2018) A Place-Based Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands: Developing our Regional Innovation System (RIS), City-REDI Policy paper for the WMCA and regional stakeholders.

Collinson, S.C. (2017) Are business schools fit for the future? WonkHE, (7/11/2017)

Wilson, A. and Collinson, S.C. (2017) Pathways to Success: Strategic groups of UK business schools, Chartered ABS Policy Papers. Oct. 2017.

Collinson, S.C. (2017) ‘Are Business Schools Fit for the Future?’ in Bradshaw, D. (Ed.) Rethinking Business Education: Fit for the Future.

Collinson, S.C. and Qamar, A. (2017) ‘Smart City-Regions Need Smart People’ Prospect Magazine Oct. 2017 Special Issue on Data as Infrastructure.

WMREDI, City-REDI briefings and blogs:

Business Press articles and interviews (2016-2018) 

2018: ‘Business schools suffer cut in EU funds as Brexit nears’ The Financial Times (Jonathan Moules; 7/11/2018).

2018: ‘Universities ‘bleeding their business schools dry’’ The Times Higher (5/11/2018)

2018: Radio 4 Today; live interview on What does the Future of Regional Economic Development look like for the Midlands Ahead of Today’s Budget? (Dominic O’Connell; 29/10/2018)

2018: Sky News Live, LBC radio, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire radio and BBC West Midlands radio live Interviews on ‘Carillion Collapse’ on (15 and 16/1/2018)

2018: BBC Inside-Out interview on the Carillion collapse (18/1/2018)

2017: Radio 4 Today; live interview on regional industrial strategies (Dominic O’Connell; 27/11/2017)

2017: Radio 4 Today; recorded interview on the Autumn Budget and regional industrial strategies (Dominc O’Connell; 22/11/2017)

2017: ‘Are business schools on the brink of a Brexit talent drain?’ The Financial Times (Jonathan Moules; 7/11/2017).

2017: General election commentary on need for distributed regional growth:

2017: ‘EU recruitment woes push business schools towards ‘tipping point’’ The THES (Holly Else; 6/11/2017)

2017: ‘Brexit exacts a heavy toll on UK business schools’ The Financial Times (Jonathan Moules; 19/6/2017)

2017: ‘Brexit bonus for students…’ The Financial Times (Jonathan Moules; 19/6/2017)

2017: ‘U.K.’s Economic Divide Takes Focus as May’s Lead in Polls Shrinks Ahead of Election’ Wall Street Journal (Jason Douglas and Wiktor Szary, 6/6/2017)

2017: ‘Declining UK business research funding concentrated among elite,’ The Times Higher (John Elmes; 29-3-2017)

2016: ‘Business schools hit by outlook on immigration,’ The Financial Times (Jonathan Moules; 14-11-2016)

2016: ‘Brexit blamed for rise in student ‘no-shows’ at business schools,’ The Times Higher (John Elmes; 14-11-2016)

2016: ‘BREXIT blamed for rise in foreign student no-shows at top business schools,’ The Independent (Rachael Pells; 17-11-2016)

2016: ‘Policymakers have ‘cynicism’ for UK business schools, says dean. Chair of Chartered Association of Business Schools questions government’s STEM focus when it comes to research funding,’ The Times Higher (John Elmes; 16-3-2016)

2016: ‘Government visa rules are making Britain a ‘difficult and unattractive’ study destination for international students,’ The Independent (Aftab Ali; 11-3-2016)

2016: ‘Business schools: UK immigration policy sparks drop in students. Chartered Association of Business Schools report shows numbers of non-EU students falling almost 9 per cent last year,’ The Times Higher (John Elmes; 10-3-2016)

2016: ‘Why business and management degrees are popular university courses’, The Independent (Geraldine Hackett; 25-2-2016)

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