Professor Simon Down

Deputy Dean, Research and Enterprise

Faculty:Faculty of Business and Law

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Business, management and leadership

Prof Down is an expert in small business, identity work, management history and ethnography.


Professor Simon Down began his working life as an entrepreneur in the independent music sector before working for London Underground. In his late twenties, Prof Down studied for a degree in history at the London School of Economics. Simon then went on to Berlin where he taught English for a year. He returned to complete his MA in Industrial Relations at Warwick University.

Research interests

  • Small business studies
  • Organisation studies
  • Identity work
  • Management history
  • Ethnography

Simon's current research work is based on a project he led in 2009 - 2012 entitled 'Situating small business regulation: a longitudinal study of how regulation is received, understood and used' (ESRC-funded £238k). 

Areas of research supervision

  • Social enterprise incubation
  • History of workplace ethnography
  • Small business regulation
  • Enterprise in challenging environments


  • BSc (Econ) International History, London School of Economics, 1993
  • MA Industrial Relations, Warwick, 1996
  • PhD University of Wollongong, Australia, 2002

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, Associate Editor from June 2009, Editor-in-Chief from December 2010-2012
  • Academic Reviewer for ESRC Peer Review College, from July 2010
  • Associate Editor of Personnel Review, 2005-2010
  • Editorial board member for International Small Business Journal, from November 2009
  • Editorial board for Journal of Organisational Ethnography

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Graduate recruitment to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), funded by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), BIS/13/546, Co-investigator, £40,000, June 2012.

ESRC standard grant proposal: 'Situating small business regulation: A longitudinal study of how regulation is received, understood and used'. Principal Investigator, with Prof Jane Pollard (Newcastle, Geography), Prof Monder Ram, OBE (De Montfort), and Paul Richter (Newcastle) £238,000, evaluated as ‘Very Good’, May 2014.

ESRC CASE studentship entitled 'Entrepreneurial Intentions in an Entrepreneurially Lagging Region: An analysis of the reasons for relative under-performance in North East England', Ben Whiston appointed September 2009, £18,000 annually for three years.

Selected recent publications

Giazitzoglu, A. and Down, S, ‘Performing entrepreneurial masculinity: an ethnographic account’,International Small Business Journal, forthcoming, accepted August 2015.

Down, S. (2015) ‘Narratives of Enterprise revisited: methodological appendices in ethnographic books’, Journal of Organizational Ethnography, 4(1): 28 - 43.

Kautonen, T., Down, S. & Minniti. Ageing and entrepreneurial preferences. Small Business Economics 42(3): 579-594.

Swail, J., Down, S. & Kautonen, T. 2014. Examining the effect of entre-tainment as a cultural influence on entrepreneurial intentions, International Small Business Journal, 32(8): 859-875.

Down, S. 2012. Evaluating the impacts of government policy through the long view of life history. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 24(7-8): 619-639.

Down, S. 2012. A historiographical account of workplace and organizational ethnography. Journal of Organizational Ethnography 1(1): 72 - 82.

Down, S. & Reveley, J. 2009. Between narration and interaction: Situating first-line supervisor identity work. Human Relations 62(3): 379 - 401.

Down, S. & Hughes, M. 2009. When the 'subject' and the 'researcher' speak together: Co-producing organizational ethnography in S. Ybema, D. Yanow, H. Wels, F. Kamsteeg (Eds.), Organizational Ethnography: Studying the Complexity of Everyday Life, London: Sage.

Reveley. J. & Down, S. 2009. Stigmatization and self-presentation in Australian entrepreneurial identity formation in Hjorth, D, and Steyaert, C. (eds.) The Politics and Aesthetics of Entrepreneurship. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Down, S. & Warren, L. 2008. Constructing narratives of enterprise: Clichés and entrepreneurial self-identity. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research 14(1):4-23.

Kautonen, T., Down, S. & South, L. 2008. Enterprise support for older entrepreneurs: the case of PRIME in the UK. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research 14(2): 85-101.

Down, S., Garrety, K., & Badham, R. 2006. Fear and loathing in the field: Emotional dissonance and identity work in ethnographic research. M@n@gement 9(3): 87-107.

Reveley, J., Down, S. & Taylor, S. 2004. Beyond the boundaries: An ethnographic analysis of spatially diffuse control in a small firm. International Small Business Journal 22(4): 349-367.

Down, S. & Reveley, J. 2004. Generational encounters and the social formation of entrepreneurial identity - "young guns" and "old farts". Organization 11(2): 233-250.


Down, S. (2010) Enterprise, Entrepreneurship and Small Business. London: Sage

Down, S. (2006) Narratives of Enterprise: Crafting Entrepreneurial Self-identity in Small Firm. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Recent presentations and conferences

Speaker at workshop, ‘Regulating work and employment: recent changes and future prospects’, talk entitled ‘Situating small business regulation’, University of Birmingham, December 2014.

Invited seminar, ‘A relational examination of regulation and the entrepreneurial small firm’, Nottingham University, December 2014.

Sebastian, S., Hirst, A., & Down, S. 2014. Gendered Organizing: An ethnohistory of women at work. Paper presented at the Management and Business History track at the BAM Conference, Belfast, 9-11 September.

Popova, I. & Down, S. 2014. Business incubators as liminal spaces. The 9th Annual Liverpool Symposium on Current Developments in Ethnographic Research in the Social and Management Sciences in association with the Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Ipswich, 27-29th August.

Invited seminar, ‘Strategic adaptation of growing firms to regulation: a longitudinal analysis of the informality-formality span’, University of Sheffield, May 2014.

Speaker at PhD workshop at Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland ‘how to write and publish quality journal articles based on qualitative data’, May 2014.

Speaker at Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS) workshop at Kingston University, ‘Impact, audiences and the conduct of qualitative research’, May 2013.

Invited seminar, ‘Strategic responses of growing firms to regulation over time: a longitudinal and behavioural analysis of the formalisation process’, Strathclyde University, April 2013.

Keynote at Advancing European Traditions of Entrepreneurship Studies March 2013, Leeds. Invited speaker at De Montfort University, Regulations and Small Firms: Boon or Burden? Small Firm Seminar Series 2012, 05 December 2012, together with Martin Traynor, Group Chief Executive of the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce and the Regulatory Policy Committee.

Keynote at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, Centre for SME Research SME regulation : building better policy, September 2012

Keynote speaker at Liverpool-Keele Ethnography Symposium. Understanding our craft: why we need historical and historiographical accounts of workplace/organisational ethnographic scholarship. August 2012.

Organiser of Where next for small business regulation? Building better policy workshop held at BIS Conference Centre, London, June 2012. The workshop presented findings from the  ESRC small business regulation project to a policy-oriented audience.

Media experience

Simon has appeared extensively on BBC radio and TV and welcomes invitations to speak about entrepreneurship and small business issues.