Dr James Cunningham
Title: Dr
First Name: James
Surname: Cunningham
Position: Lecturer
Telephone: +44 (0)1224 263455
Linkedin: LinkedIn Icon

Duties and Responsibilities

Dr James Cunningham is a lecturer in strategy and entrepreneurship at Aberdeen Business School and head of year for the level four management and international business management programmes. He is an active researcher in the field of entrepreneurship and teaches on a variety of subjects related to business strategy, business development and research methods in business.

In 2009 he achieved distinction in MSc Operations Management at Caledonian Business School, Glasgow, and completed his 2013 Ph.D. on entrepreneurial behaviour in small family firms at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. During his career he has been involved in consultation and the teaching of management for many institutions, including lecturing at the Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Germany and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. 

He sits on the editorial board of European Management Review and the Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, whilst also actively reviewing for a number of other small business- and entrepreneurship-based journals. He is also a track reviewer for the ISBE and EURAM conferences.

 His current work focuses on the social construction of entrepreneurship and a critical analysis of power in small firms.

Research Interests

Dr Cunningham’s current research considers the social construction of entrepreneurial activity. With projects covering: leadership and identity in family business; the social status of entrepreneurs across cultures; and entrepreneurship in the creative sectors. 

He has recently completed a project for the UFHRD looking into the suitability of workplace learning initiatives for ethnic minority family businesses. This work considers the vital role that ethnic minority business plays in Scotland’s economy and looks to workplace learning as a means to enhance the Sottish Government’s agenda for inclusive growth.  

Also, James has a particular interest in Berlin, and is currently leading a long-term study on the identity of creative and cultural entrepreneurs in the city. Creative and cultural entrepreneurs, such as artists, designers and gallery owners, impact on both the economic and cultural development of a region, this work investigates how these entrepreneurs are embedded both socially, in the artistic scene of the city, and economically, in the market opportunities of Berlin.  

Furthermore, he has a keen interest in how entrepreneurship is constructed across national and regional contexts. Current pursuits include an examination of social status for entrepreneurs in both India and Pakistan.  

Dr Cunningham has examined and supervised on a number of PhD projects and would actively encourage any contact from applicants interested in any of the areas mentioned.

Professional Memberships

Institute for small business and entrepreneurship (ISBE)

University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD)

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)


Wasim, J., Cunningham, J., Maxwell-Cole, A., Richard Taylor, J. (2018) Nonfamily knowledge during family business succession: a cultural understanding, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research,

Cunningham, J. (2018) Identifying as an outsider: implications for nonfamily in small family firms, The International Journal of Human Resource Management

Cunningham, J. and Anderson, A. R. (2018) Inspired or foolhardy: sensemaking, confidence and entrepreneurs' decision-making. Group Decision and Negotiation, doi:

Cunningham, J., and Tolonen, K. (2018). Maintaining the scene: entrepreneurship in Berlin’s artistic sectors. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business [IN PRESS]

Kalden, J. N., Cunningham, J. and Anderson, A. R. (2017) The social status of entrepreneurs: Contrasting German perspectives. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 18(2): 91-104.

McGuire, D., Cunningham, J. and Garavan, T. (2017) Positive and inclusive language and imagery can help candidates win over voters in times of crisis. Invited post: LSE United States Politics and Policy

Cunningham, J., Seaman, C., McGuire, D. (2017) Perceptions of Knowledge Sharing Among Small Family Firm Leaders: a structural equation model, Family Business Review, 30(2): 160-181.

Cunningham, J. Seaman, C. and McGuire, D. (2016) Knowledge sharing in small family firms: a leadership perspective. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 7(1): 34-46.

McGuire, D. Garavan, T. Cunningham, J. & Duffy, G. (2016) The use of imagery in the campaign speeches of Barack Hussein Obama and John McCain during the 2008 presidential election. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 37(4): 430 – 449.

Cunningham, J. (2015) In Europe, but not European: small firm owner managers up against the German Mittelstand. Opinion Piece – ‘Real Business’ January 15

Cunningham, J. (2015) Book Review: The knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship. Journal of Entrepreneurship. Vol: 24 Issue: 1

Cunningham, J. (2014) Keep your friends close – trends in the provision of legal advice to family businesses. Private Client Advisor. Vol: 20 Issue: 1

Cunningham, J. (2012) Book Review: Coaching in the family owned business: A Path to Growth. Journal of European Industrial Training. Vol: 36 Issue: 2/3

Cunningham, J. Seaman, C. McGuire, D. (2011) Towards a model for understanding the relationship between a knowledge sharing culture and business performance in small family firms. Research paper presentation: 11th Annual IFERA World Family Business Research Conference, Italy.

Conference papers  

McGuire, D., and Cunningham, J. (2018) Business support and training in Minority Ethnic Group (MEG) Family-run SMEs in Scotland. University Forum for HRD Annual Conference 2018, Northumbria University, Newcastle.

Cunningham, J., and Tolonen, K. (2017). Maintaining the scene: a mixed embeddedness perspective of Berlin’s cultural producers. 15th Interdisciplinary European Conference on Entrepreneurship Research, Siegen, Germany.

Cunningham, J. (2016) Inside Outsiders - Identity of nonfamily in close family firms. 39th ISBE Conference, Paris.

Cunningham, J. (2015) The impact of family influence on organisational efficacy. 38th ISBE Conference, Glasgow. 

Cunningham, J., Seaman, C., McGuire, D. (2011) Towards a model for understanding the relationship between a knowledge sharing culture and business performance in small family firms. 11th Annual IFERA World Family Business Research Conference, Palermo. 

Invited Speaker Appointments  

Cunningham, J. (2018) Family and context: understanding family business and entrepreneurial diversity. Keynote address, Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise Research International Conference, Edinburgh, June. 

Cunningham, J. (2016) Evidence-based HRM: the case of family business. Guest lecture. University of Edinburgh, November. 

Cunningham, J. (2016) Knowledge sharing culture in succession. The Sottish Family Business Conference. Family Business United. Glasgow, October.

Cunningham, J. (2016) Leadership approaches to knowledge sharing in small family firms. Entrepreneurship 2020: researcher development workshop. HEC Paris and Heriot Watt. Doha, Qatar, April.

Cunningham, J. (2015) Leadership strategies within small family firms. SAMS Workshop: Advancing understanding of the management strategies adopted by family-owned businesses; Queen’s University Belfast, April

Cunningham, J. Seaman, C. McGuire, D. (2011) Knowledge sharing under the influence of family – Implications for relational behaviour in family firms. ESRC Seminar Series: Strategic thinking in second generation family firms. Invited speaker at Seminar 5: Making the most of absorptive capacity in family business; University of Kent at Canterbury, April.