Professor Simon Collinson

Professor Simon Collinson

The Department of Strategy and International Business
Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Regional Economic Engagement
Director of the City-Region Economic Development Institute (City-REDI)
Professor of International Business and Innovation

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Simon is Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (DPVC) leading on Regional Engagement at the University of Birmingham, and Director of the City-Region Economic Development Institute (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.

In his DPVC role Simon leads on regional and civic engagement at the University, including its contribution in a ‘place-based’ industrial strategy. His 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 has recently taken on the roles of Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Regional Economic Engagement for the University of Birmingham and Director of the City-Region Economic Development Institute (City-REDI). He is a Professor of International Business and Innovation in the Department of Strategy and International Business.

Current roles:

  • Professor of International Business and Innovation, University of Birmingham
  • Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools (C-ABS)
  • Member of the Council of the UK ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
  • Member of the Council of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce 
  • FRSA: Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
  • Member of the Management Board of Lord Young’s Small Businesses Royal Charter initiative


Simon has taught International Business, Strategy and Innovation at the Undergraduate, MSc and MBA levels since the late-1990s. 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

Simon has worked as a consultant to, or taught, a range of firms in the areas of international business, strategy, innovation and organisational change.

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.

Professor Collinson's main areas of interest:

  • 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 continues to present and publish on China.

Simon has won funding awards from 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. 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.

Major research projects

  • 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 is 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. Over the years this 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)
In December 2015, 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.

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.

His most recent book, ‘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. 

The ‘Global Simplicity Index’

Regional Engagement roles:

Greater Birmingham and Solihull Chamber of Commerce
Simon is a member of the GBS Chamber of Commerce, representing the University of Birmingham which is a patron of Chamber. 

Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership
The Chamber of Commerce role is linked to work with the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP which led to the establishment of City-REDI, the City-Region Economic Development Institute at Birmingham Business School in 2015. Most recently, as a member of the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) Refresh Steering Group, Simon is helping align local research, analysis and expertise with the needs of the evolving West Midlands Combined Authority and ‘Midlands Engine’ with a particular focus on economic growth, productivity and innovation.


Selected Academic papers since 2008

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.

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

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.

Selected academic book contributions since 2008

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 practice and teaching contributions since 2008

Collinson, S.C. (2012) ‘Managing complexity’ Britain in 2012, ESRC publications

Collinson, S.C., Jay, M. and Pizzey, M. (2012) ‘Simpler Organisation Design’, European Business Review, Sept-Oct. 2012.

Collinson, S.C. and Jay, M. (2012) From Complexity to Simplicity, Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Collinson, S.C. and Jay, M. (2011) ‘Complexity kills profits’, European Business Review, Nov-Dec. 2011.

Collinson, S.C. and Jay, M. (2011) The Complexity Challenge, Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) research, Executive Briefing, London.

Rugman, A.M. and Collinson, S.C. (2012) International Business(6th Edition), FT Pearson/Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Collinson, S.C. (2011) ‘Who owns UK plc – and does it matter?’ Britain in 2011, ESRC publications

Rugman, A.M. and Collinson, S.C. (2008) International Business (5th Edition), FT Pearson/Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Collinson, S. C. and Sullivan-Taylor, B. (2008) Responding to the China Challenge, The World Today, 64: 2, p.28-31, Chatham House Publications, London.

View all publications in research portal


A specialist in innovation, productivity, performance and economic growth. Recently engaged in studies of regional economic growth, regional economic reliance on large firms and supply chains and inclusive growth. Advising on regional industrial strategies and the role of Universities as 'anchor institutions'.


Economic and trade policy

Research and consulting in the following areas: firm complexity, strategy and performance; the management of innovation, technology transfer, multinational firms, trade and FDI; city-region economic development, inclusive economic growth, regional policy.