Photo of Professor Robert Blackburn

Professor Robert Blackburn BA MA PhD

Professor of Entrepreneurship Strategy, IB and Entrepreneurship


Personal Statement

I am Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Liverpool Management School. My interest in entrepreneurship derives from my PhD where I took a critical analysis of the job-generating capabilities of small firms and a shift towards small-scale enterprises in the economy. With time, this curiosity exploded into a range of projects, essentially examining the behaviour of small firms, the people involved (self-employed, entrepreneurs, business owners), their motivations and ambitions, strategies and interactions with their environments. Most of my work uses original qualitative and quantitative evidence to address specific research agendas. This often involves meeting people in their own environments to gain a sense of their world, although I also work on secondary and big data sets.

I benefit from working in a field of research that is dynamic, interdisciplinary and attracts highly talented people from a variety of backgrounds. My research activity is dependent on collegiality: working in partnership with national and international academics as well as analysts and decision-makers in private and public sector organisations. These relations span fully formed collaborative projects through to helping on a specific element of a project. I am involved in choosing the appropriate research design, data collection and analysis, and publishing outputs; through to contributing to external think-tanks, panels and committees.

I have a strong track-record of securing external research funding from a range of sponsors, including national and international, public and private organisations. This is as Principal or Co-Investigator, or team member; and as an evaluator of proposals for various grant funding bodies. I have developed an extensive network of colleagues and stakeholders across research and practitioner communities. This connectivity ensures that the research agendas I pursue are up-to-date, relevant and through peer-review, robust.

I consider the dissemination of research ideas and results as an essential activity for an academic. I enjoy working with colleagues to develop high quality, challenging and impactful outputs. I have co-authored with people across the world, including practitioners, policy-makers, consultants, and researchers at various career stages; from world-leading authorities through to those starting out on their careers.

My research reflects the breadth of interest I hold in the field, its constant evolution and interdisciplinary nature. I have publications in the highest ranked journals as well as books and monographs linked to research projects for clients and stakeholder audiences. I regard mentoring of early career researchers and junior colleagues as a key responsibility and I take pride in this role and have examined over 40 doctorates.

I am Editor-in-chief of the International Small Business Journal and serve on the editorial board of a number of journals in the field of entrepreneurship. I contribute to the academic community more broadly in a number of ways, for example, as Treasurer of the Society of the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS). I have served on the RAE (2008) and the REF (2014) Business and Management sub-panels and currently have responsibility of the Chair for UoA 17, Business and Management and membership of Main panel C for REF 2021:

My passion for research in entrepreneurship and small firms is unceasing. I am always looking to work with partners and organizations to raise the level of knowledge and theory in this field. I am also keen to supervise research students and help them develop their ideas. Please contact me if interested.


Prizes or Honours

  • European ENSR Fellow (European Network for Social and Economic Research, 2020)
  • ECSB Fellow (European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 2020)
  • Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion (HM Government, The Queen's Award Office, 2011)