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Professor Robert J Bennett MA PhD FBA

Professor Robert J Bennett MA PhD FBA

Director of Research, Emeritus Professor, and Emeritus Fellow of St. Catharine's College

Analytical economic geography, business management and public policy: focusing on small businesses, agents of local economic development, and business associations.

Works with Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (Campop)



  • 1973-1978: Lecturer, University College London.
  • 1978: Visiting Professor, University of California Berkeley; Guest Scholar Brookings Institution, Washington D.C. (also in 1979, 1981, 1984)
  • 1978-1985: Lecturer, University of Cambridge.
  • 1984: International Fellow, Macquarie University, New South Wales.
  • 1985: US-UK International Fellow, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • 1989: University Fellow, George Mason University, Virginia.
  • 1985-1996: Professor of Geography London School of Economics.
  • 1996-2000: Leverhulme Research Professor, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.
  • 1996-present: Senior Associate of the Judge Business School. Works with the Cambridge Centre of Business Research.
  • 1996-2010: Professor of Geography (1931), Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.
  • 2011-: Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Cambridge; Emeritus Fellow, St. Catharine's College. Works with the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (Campop)


History of entrepreneurship, and SME policy

Entrepreneurs and small business: historical development and modern policy issues. Read more ...

History of Chambers of Commerce

The history and current development of local Chambers of Commerce, and business services. Read more ...

Local and Regional Economic Development: The Role of Institutions

Agencies and economic support for learning and skills, small business, inward investment. Read more ...


Full publications list

Selected recent or major publications

  • Bennett, R.J. (2016) Interpreting business partnerships in late Victorian Britain, Economic History Review, 69,4,1199-1227

  • Bennett, R. J. (2015) Management adaptation of business association services: Long-term stability 1783-2012 and 'change points' for Irish Chambers of Commerce, forthcoming, Irish Journal of Management.
  • Bennett, R. J. and Newton G. (2015) Identifying employers in the population census in England and Wales in 1881, Local Population Studies, 94, 29-49
  • Bennett, R. J. (2014) Entrepreneurship and small business policy: Evolution or revolution, Routledge, London, Masters in Entrepreneurship Series.
  • Bennett, R. J. (2014) Searching for new models of business representation: the Liverpool Committee or Board of Trade, 1775–1794, Northern History, 51, 2, 263-89 doi:10.1179/0078172X14Z.00000000065
  • Bennett, R. J. (2014) Alignments, interests and tensions over 'Reform' in 18th Century Britain: The Manchester Committee of Trade 1774-86, Northern History, 51, 1, 61-90. doi:10.1179/0078172X13Z.00000000061
  • Bennett, R. J. (2013) Network interlocks: The connected emergence of chambers of commerce and provincial banks in the British Isles, 1767–1823, Business History, 55, 8, 1288-1317. doi:10.1080/00076791.2012.725163 [Download data table]
  • Bennett, R. J. (ed.)(2012) Environment and Planning, Volume 3 of 5 volume set, (eds. S. Elden, R. J. Bennett and others), Sage, Library of Urban and Regional Research, London. [Info] Includes Chapter 1, 'Reflections on "Government and Policy"' (draft text).
  • Bennett, R. J. (2012) Supporting trust: Credit assessment and debt recovery through Trade Protection Societies in Britain and Ireland, 1776-1992, Journal of Historical Geography, 38, 2, 123-142. doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2012.01.001
  • Bennett, R. J. (2011) Local Business Voice: The history of Chambers of Commerce in Britain, Ireland and Revolutionary America, 1760-2011, Oxford University Press. [Audio presentation]
  • Bennett, R. J. (2011), Malachy Postlethwayt: Genealogy and influence of an early economist and spin doctor, Genealogists' Magazine, 31 (June) 1-7.
  • Bennett, R. J. (2010) The Voice of Liverpool Business: The first chamber of commerce and the Atlantic economy, 1774-c.1796, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce; 172pp.
  • Robson, P. and Bennett, R. J. (2010) Paying fees for government business advice: an assessment of the Business Link experience, Applied Economics, 42 (1) 37-48. doi:10.1080/00036840701579184
  • Bennett, R. J. (2008) Government SME policy since the 1990s: what have we learnt? Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 26, 375-397.
  • Bennett, R. J. (2007) SME expectations from Business Link Services: How are they met? Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 14 (3) 435-457.
  • Bennett, R. J. (2007) Government local and regional support for SMEs and Business Link, Chapter 7, pp. 75-88; What SMEs want from Government: Policy changes, Chapter 8, pp. 89-93, in A. Cosh and A. Hughes (eds.) British Enterprise: Thriving or surviving? Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School, Cambridge University.
  • Bennett, R.J. and M. Ramsden, (2007) The contribution of business associations to SMEs: Strategy, bundling or reassurance? International Small Business Journal, 25 (1) 49-76.
  • Bennett, R.J. (2006) Government and Small Business, Chapter 4, pp. 49-75, in S. Carter and D. Jones-Evans (eds.) Enterprise and Small Business, Financial Times/Pearson Education, Harlow.
  • Bennett, R.J., Fuller, C. and Ramsden, M. (2005) Local government and local economic development in Britain: an evaluation of developments under Labour, Progress in Planning, 62, 205-274.
  • Bennett, R.J. and Smith, C. (2004) The selection and control of management consultants by small business clients, International Small Business Journal, 22 (5) 435-462.
  • Bennett, R. J. and Robson, P.J.A. (2003) External advice and Business Link, Chapter 5, pp. 57-71, in A. Cosh and A. Hughes, (eds), Enterprise challenged: Policy and Performance in the British SME sector, 1999 - 2002, Cambridge Centre for Business Research.
  • Bennett, R.J. and Robson P. (2003) Business Link: Use, satisfaction and the influence of local governance regime, Policy Studies, 24, 163-186.
  • Bennett, R.J. and Robson, P.J.A. (2003) The role of trust and contract in the supply of business advice: a comparison of private, public, business association and social network suppliers, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 28, 471-488.
  • Bennett, R.J. and Smith, C. (2002) Competitive conditions, competitive advantage and the location of SMEs, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development,9, 73-86.
  • Bennett, R.J., Robson, P.J.A. and Bratton, W. (2001) The influence of location on the use by SMEs of external advice and collaboration, Urban Studies, 38, 1531-1557.
  • Bennett, R. J. & P.J.A. Robson (2000) External advice and business link, Chapter 8, pp. 77-86, in A. Cosh and A. Hughes (eds.) British Enterprise in Transition: Growth, innovation and public policy in the SME sector 1994-1999, ESRC University of Cambridge, Centre for Business Research.
  • Bennett, R.J. and Payne, D.A. (2000) Local and Regional Development: Renegotiating power under Labour, Ashgate, Aldershot.
  • Bennett, R.J., Graham, D.J. and Bratton, W.J.A. (1999) The location and concentration of businesses in Britain: business clusters, business services, market coverage and local economic development, Transactions Institute of British Geographers: 24: 393-420.
  • Bennett, R.J. and Robson, P.J.A. (1999) The use of external advice by SMEs in Britain, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development11: 155-180.
  • Bennett, R.J. (1999) Explaining the membership of sectoral business associations, Environment and Planning A 31: 877-898.
  • Bennett, R.J. and Robson, P.J.A. (1999) Intensity of interaction in supply of business advice and client impact: a comparison of consultancy, business associations and government support initiatives for SMEs, British Journal of Management: 10: 351-369 [also working paper 142 Cambridge: ESRC Centre for Business Research, 47pp]
  • Bennett, R.J. and Robson, P.J.A. (1999) Business link: use, satisfaction and comparison with business shop and business connect, Policy Studies 20(2): 107-132.
  • Bennett, R.J. (ed.) (1997) Trade Associations in Britain and Germany: responding to internationalisation and the EU. London and Bonn: Anglo-German Foundation. 118pp.
  • Bennett, R.J. (1997) The relations between government and business associations in Britain: an evaluation of recent developments, Policy Studies 18: 5-33
  • Bennett, R.J. (1997) The impact of European economic integration on business associations: the UK case, West European Politics, 20(3): 61-90
  • Bennett, R.J. (ed.) (1994) Local Government and Market decentralisation: experiences in industrialised, developing and former eastern bloc countries, UN University Press, Tokyo. 506pp.
  • Bennett, R.J. and McCoshan, A. (1993) Enterprise and Human resource Development: Local Capacity Building, Paul Chapman, London, 336pp.
  • Bennett, R. J., Krebs, G. and Zimmermann, H. (eds.) (1993) Chambers of Commerce in Britain and Germany and the Single European Market, Anglo-German Foundation, London and Bonn.
  • Bennett, R.J. (ed.) (1993) Local Government in the New Europe, Belhaven, London. 309pp.
  • Bennett, R.J. and Krebs, G. (1991) Local Economic Development: Public-private partnerships in Britain and Germany, Belhaven Press, London. 200pp.
  • Bennett, R.J. (ed.) (1989) Territory and administration in Europe, Francis Pinter, London. 316pp.
  • Bennett, R.J. (1982) Central Grants to Local Governments: the political and economic impacts of the Rate Support Grant, Cambridge University Press, 351pp.
  • Bennett, R.J. (1980) The Geography of Public Finance: Welfare under fiscal federalism and local government finance, Methuen, London. 498pp.
  • Bennett, R.J. (1979) Spatial Time Series: Analysis, forecasting and control, Pion, London, 674pp.

Database Deposits

External activities

  • Advisor and consultant to organisations in the private and public sectors in the UK and Europe.
  • Has advised House of Commons Employment Committee and Scottish Affairs Committee, National Audit Office, Audit Commission, Local Government Association, CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, TEC National Council, and local development bodies.
  • Chair of Research Committee, Council member, Vice President and officer, British Academy 2002-8.
  • Board member, Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship 2001-8.
  • Member of ACCA small firms policy panel 2009-14
  • Editorial Board International Small Business Journal
  • Co-Editor Environmental and Planning: Series C