Simon Deakin

Simon Deakin

Director of the Centre for Business Research (CBR)
Fellow (Economics & Policy)

Fellow of Peterhouse

MA, PhD (University of Cambridge)

Research interests

The study of corporate governance from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective; economic and sociological theories of law; empirical studies of the effects of legal change; doctrinal legal analysis in the areas of company, employment and private law; relations between shareholders and directors; human resource management and employment contracting; inter-firm relations; corporate insolvency; corporate social responsibility.

Simon Deakin is a member of the Economics & Policy subject group.

Professional experience

Professor Deakin is the Director of the Centre for Business Research (CBR), as well as a Yorke Professorial Research Fellow at the Faculty of Law at Cambridge. He specialises in the economics of law and empirical legal studies, with particular reference to labour law, private law, and corporate governance. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and has received the ECGI and Allen & Overy prizes for his research on corporate governance. He has carried out consultancy and contract research for numerous governments, international organisations, companies, business associations, trade unions and NGOs. He has acted as a consultant for a number of transnational organisations, national governments, corporate clients, and trade unions. Between 1999 and 2001 he provided research and advice for the DTI-sponsored Company Law Review in the UK and in 2002 he contributed to the work of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation established by the International Labour Organisation. He is a founder member of the Institute of Employment Rights, London, and a member of its executive committee. In 2002 he became a member of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Drug Testing at Work, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Professor Deakin is one of the editors of the British Journal of Industrial Relations.

Previous appointments

Prior to taking up his current position, Professor Deakin taught in the Faculty of Law at Cambridge for 11 years, where he is still Yorke Professorial Research Fellow. He has also taught in the Universities of Chicago, London, Nantes and Melbourne. In 1994 Simon Deakin was one of a number of Cambridge-based academics who set up the Centre for Business Research (CBR), of which he is now Director.


Adams, Z., and Deakin, S. (2015) “Quantitative labour law.” In: Ludlow, A. and Blackham, A. (eds.) New frontiers in empirical labour law research. Oxford: Hart.

Hamilton, J. and Deakin, S. (2015) “Russia’s legal transitions: Marxist theory, neoclassical economics and the rule of law.” Hague Journal of the Rule of Law, 7(2): 283-307 (DOI: 10.1007/s40803-015-0012-8)

Deakin, S., Fraser Butlin, S., McLaughlin, C. and Polanska, A. (2014) “Are litigation and collective bargaining complements or substitutes for achieving gender equality? A study of the British Equal Pay Act.” Cambridge Journal of Economics, 39(2): 381-403 (DOI: 10.1093/cje/bev006)

Chen, D. and Deakin, S. (2014) “On heaven’s lathe: state, rule of law, and economic development.” Law and Development Review, 8(1): 123-145 (DOI: 10.1515/ldr-2014-0031)

Deakin, S., Malmberg, J. and Sarkar, P. (2014) “How do labour laws affect unemployment and the labour share of national income? The experience of six OECD countries, 1970-2010.” International Labour Review, 153(1): 1-27 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1564-913X.2014.00195.x)

Buchanan, J., Chai, D.H. and Deakin, S. (2014) “Empirical analysis of legal institutions and institutional change: multiple-methods approaches and their application to corporate governance research.” Journal of Institutional Economics, 10(1): 1-20 (DOI: 10.1017/S1744137413000349)

News & insight

Professor Simon Deakin, Director of the Centre for Business Research (CBR), awarded the 2023 Cambridge SU (students' union) prize for Postgraduate Research Supervision.

Research centre news

Humanising the migration crisis

The ongoing refugee and asylum seeker crisis in Europe and the UK is an opportunity to strengthen public health, the economy, labour markets and social cohesion. In the media and political hubbub surrounding the crisis, the personal stories, mental health and wellbeing of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are absent. How can we design front-line mental health services for refugees, asylum seekers and local populations at risk in the UK?

Lebanon’s health services should be given far greater priority in economic recovery policies by donor governments, says new report co-authored at the Centre for Business Research at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Re-learning how to manage risk can be a template for the future governance of crises, say academics from the Centre for Business Research at Cambridge Judge Business School. This article, which originally appeared on the website of the University of Cambridge, is by Simon Deakin, Professor in the Faculty of Law and Director of the Centre for Business Research (CBR), and Dr Gaofeng Meng, Research Fellow of the CBR specialising in property law, with particular reference to Chinese law. As the pandemic crisis has played out across the world, different types of government have taken different approaches to controlling the spread of virus and supporting citizens – with different outcomes. Can we start to draw conclusions on how best to govern future catastrophic risks? In the 12 months since Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia from which a novel coronavirus was eventually identified, global efforts to contain it have gone from understanding SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it generates, to studying human behaviour and how the virus is transmitted. But there are some questions that virology and epidemiology alone cannot answer, such as why COVID-19 (Coronavirus) infection and mortality rates differ so widely across countries. We now know that…

A research project on legal systems and artificial antelligence (AI), based on collaboration between Hitotsubashi University, Japan, and the University of Cambridge, UK, has been selected for funding following a joint call by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Japanese Science and Technology Agency (JST). On 30 January 2020, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, and the University of Cambridge, UK, announced that they will jointly conduct research on legal systems and artificial intelligence. The Japanese Principal Investigator is Professor Mihoko Sumida of Hitotsubashi University’s Graduate School of Law, and the British Principal Investigator is Professor Simon Deakin of the Centre for Business Research and Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge. The project is one of a number of projects funded by the UKRI and JST joint call on artificial intelligence and society. This project focuses on judicial decision making as a core feature of legal systems, and examines the possibilities, risks, and limitations of its digitisation and automation. Its aim is to develop; foundational technologies for computing law and modeling legal reasoning in ways that will facilitate the introduction of AI into legal systemsthe creation of future scenarios for the implementation of AI in lawa set of ethical guidelines for regulating the use…

Researchers have built the single largest dataset of employment laws – spanning more than 100 countries across much of post-war history – to look at how worker rights affect economies over decades. There's a familiar story that goes something like this: the post-war consensus was one of heavy regulation, dominant trade unions and the same job for life; then, in the 1980s, free market forces were unleashed, and regulation came to be viewed as a 'market distortion' that stifled productivity. By the start of the 1990s, deregulation was a cornerstone of the emergent 'Washington Consensus', and worker protection and unions were in steep decline. Legal reforms to 'free up' the labour market were declared a route to prosperity by international bodies such as the OECD and World Bank. Now, a decade on from a global economic crash, and the mood music may again be changing. Issues of inequality and migrant labour are destabilising politics, while all-conquering technology companies are driving new and more flexible – as well as precarious – ways of working. Last year, for the first time in a generation, both major UK parties went into an election with manifestos that argued free market forces alone were not…

Launch of final project report from the Foresight Lead Expert Group Professor Alan Hughes was a member of the Lead Expert Group oversaw the technical aspects of this project which was particularly involved in writing the final report. The Lead Expert Group was led by Sir Richard Lapthorne, and also included Professor Nicholas Crafts, Professor Steve Evans, Professor Anne Green, Professor Richard Harris, Professor Chris Lowe, Dr Hamid Mughal, and Professor Sir Michael Sterling. This report looks at how manufacturing is set to enter a dynamic new phase, driven by rapid changes in technology, new ways of doing business, global competition and potential volatility in resource prices and availability. These changes mean that manufacturing in 2050 will look very different from today. The project commissioned over 30 research reports to inform its findings of which six were written and co-authored by CBR and UK~IRC colleagues including Simon Deakin, Cher Li, Elif Bascavosoglu-Moreau, Alan Hughes, Bill Martin, Ken Coutts and Bob Rowthorn.…

After nearly 20 years as Director of the Centre for Business Research (CBR), Professor Alan Hughes is standing down from this position, but will continue to play a major role in the Centre as Director of the UK~IRC, as a University Director of Research and as Director of the University's ESRC Social Science Impact Acceleration Programme. Alan will be succeeded by Professor Simon Deakin, who has been an Assistant Director of the Centre since its foundation. Simon will continue to have responsibility for the Centre's corporate governance research programme. Upon taking up his new appointment, Professor Deakin commented: Alan's achievement in leading for the CBR over two decades and bringing it to a position of international prominence in social science research and policy analysis is unique. It is humbling and daunting, but also a great privilege, to succeed him, and to be given the opportunity to pilot the Centre through the next stage in its evolution. Professor Alan Hughes commented: "Simon's research has made a pivotal contribution to the development of the international reputation of the CBR. He has also since its foundation played a fundamental role in its overall growth and development. His academic distinction and institutional commitment augur…

UK~IRC Innovation Summit 2011 – Growing through Innovation 26 November 2011 The Innovation Summit, UK~IRC's annual one day conference for practitioners, policy-makers and academics, took place on 25 November 2011 at IBM Hursley in Winchester. It was a chance to debate hot topics in innovation and share best practice. This year's event, entitled "Growing through Innovation", united the latest academic research with real-world business concerns, to provide evidence-driven discussions on using innovation to sustain growth. The British economy: as good as it gets? 18 July 2011 Has Britain's productivity been permanently and drastically impaired by the banking crisis? And does this mean that the economy has already returned to near normal levels of capacity utilisation? Many policy makers say yes. A new research report challenges the evidence and cautions against excessive policy tightening that may risk a vicious spiral of weaker demand and weaker supply. The report Is the British Economy Supply Constrained? A Critique of Productivity Pessimism by Bill Martin, Centre for Business Research, follows on from his April 2010 study and takes a detailed look at the reasons why Britain's labour productivity has fallen short. He finds policy makers' structural explanations unconvincing. Bill Martin argues that productivity weakness…

Professor Hughes re-appointed as member to the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology 16 December 2010 The Prime Minister today re-appointed five members, including Professor Alan Hughes, appointed four ex-officio members, and launched the recruitment of up to around ten new members to the Council for Science and Technology (CST). The appointments will commence on 1 January 2011 when current members' appointments expire. The CST is the UK Government’s top-level advisory body on science and technology policy issues. It reports directly to the Prime Minister. Find out more Visit the website to read more about the Council for Science and Technology reappointments Higher Education on Regional Economies Research Initiative Conference 18 November 2010 Professor Alan Hughes and Mr Michael Kitson both spoke at the Higher Education on Regional Economies Research Initiative Conference that took place in Edinburgh on 16-17 November 2010. Professor Hughes discussed the phenomenon of investment in higher education being seen as a route to economic recovery. Michael Kitson talked about the impact of expenditure cuts in UK higher education and the implications for society and long-term economic growth, and highlighted the extensive knowledge exchange taking place between academics and the private, public and third sectors.…

22,000 academics speak: results from the largest survey of academics 20 October 2009 On 20 October 2009 the UK Innovation Research Centre (UK~IRC) launched the results of the latest CBR research on how British academics interact with businesses and other sectors of the economy at NESTA. The results are from the largest survey of academics undertaken in the UK – with over 20,000 respondents. The research reveals: that although there is significant interaction between the science base and business, there are also significant 'hidden' interactions encompassing a range of other academic disciplines; that links between business and academia are not just about 'technology transfer' but involve a broader process that is best encapsulated as 'knowledge exchange'; that very few academics are involved with creating spin-outs, licenses or patents, instead the most frequent forms of knowledge exchange involve informal advice, joint publications, consultancy and a wide range of people based activities (such as involvement in networks and employee training); that there are significant interactions involving the third and public sectors. The research presented by Professor Alan Hughes and Mr Michael Kitson is based on a research project (RES-171-25-0018) carried out with their colleagues Maria Abreu and Vadim Grinevich at the CBR.…

The Wal-Mart model: is it sustainable? 1 December 2005 Wal-Mart has just been the subject of a week of events in the US run by a campaign group concerned about Wal-Mart’s corporate citizenship and its treatment of employees. Now new research from the Centre for Business Research at Cambridge University contrasts the company’s business practices unfavourably with another large retailer – IKEA – and warns of the impact of “discount prices based on low living standards” on both domestic and global production systems. Wal-Mart’s “single-minded pursuit of the bottom line”, or IKEA’s “low cost, but not at the expense of product quality, social or environmental responsibility” – which variety of capitalism is sustainable in the long run? And whose business practices are better for these retailers’ host communities, employees and suppliers, and ultimately the companies themselves? These questions are posed in a study just published by the Centre for Business Research at Cambridge University. In a working paper entitled ‘The Export of National Varieties of Capitalism: the Cases of Wal-Mart and Ikea’, four researchers interested in corporate governance compare the business practices of Wal-Mart – the world’s largest retailer and America’s largest private employer – and IKEA, the world’s largest…

Learning from Enron; what makes entrepreneurs tick; and the saga of Britain's managerial skills shortage… 17 October 2003 Why we might be learning the wrong lessons from the collapse of Enron; what Britain's high-tech entrepreneurs are really like; and the curious, post-War history of why institutional investors began buying shares in UK companies at a time when the skills of the managers running them seemed seriously inadequate… These are just three of the issues raised in new Working Papers published this week by the Centre for Business Research (CBR) at the University of Cambridge. The seven papers raise a number of issues for policy-makers in the fields of enterprise, and corporate governance. These range from warning that high-tech small firms cannot be treated identically, since they do not all follow the same growth paths and ambitions, to urging policy-makers to consider very carefully the real lessons of the collapse of Enron. After interviewing a number of high-tech entrepreneurs, the authors of The Beer Beneath the Froth (Working Paper 272) are warning industrial policy-makers not to get carried away with the idea that every small high-tech by usiness is set up by an ambitious young graduate with their eyes on fast…

The Cambridge Seminar on Financial Regulation 25-27 September 2002 The seminar brought together senior bank regulators from South East Asia to discuss the role played by financial regulation and the theory and practice of prudential regulation in an international context. Participants came from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Other guests included representatives of the World Trade Organisation, the UK Financial Services Authority, and the Bank of England. Seminar presentations stressed the importance of the practice of financial regulation for economic policy and the links between micro risk, macro contagion and economic performance. The presentations also emphasized the importance of institutional context focusing, in particular, on the latest international developments. Lord Eatwell opened the seminar with a keynote speech on the purposes of financial regulation and the relationship between regulatory institutions and formation of macroeconomic policy. His presentation focused on the threats to systemic stability and the need for an international response to the regulatory challenge posed by internationalized financial markets. These points were reinforced in the subsequent presentation by Kern Alexander, who gave a critical evaluation of how the international framework for financial regulation has evolved so far, emphasizing how norms developed for and by the G10 are…