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Personal profile

Research interests

Marc has spent over 28 years researching in four core areas:

1 The Dynamics of Early Stage Survival and Growth 

His interests lie in examining the key determinants of why some firms fail to survive their formative years, why some survive, but fail to grow, and why some survive and manage to achieve growth. Of specific interest is the interaction between human capital and financial capital and identifying which combinations contribute most in explaining survival and growth. Currently, he is investigating the complex relationships between innovation and growth and the chain of causal events that can lead to rapid growth.

2 The Financing of SMEs and Entrepreneurial Businesses

Marc's interests focus on identifying issues around the capitalisation of firms and how firms and financiers interact with one another. Two particular areas of interest are credit rationing and the nature of debt contracts and provision, and the role of venture capital and informal equity in supporting innovation. He is investigating the consequences of banks' market power in the context of small business lending and the dynamics of credit supply over the recessionary cycle, and how informal investors make their portfolio investment decision in the context of crowd funding and P2P.

3 Labour Market Dynamics
Marc has researched widely on key labour force dynamics including the rise in importance of self-employment as a form of work organisation, the job creating ability of the self-employed, and gender aspects of self-employment. He has also studied the effects of higher education on labour market outcomes and how different qualifications lead to different job and pay outcomes over the life-cycle. A third strand of labour market research focuses on pay discrimination and disadvantaging characteristics. Currently, he is investigating the incidence and job characteristics of women in senior management roles.

4 Evaluating Public Policy
He has been conducting evaluations for 20 years during which he has investigated the UK Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme (four times), UK Venture Capital Trusts, the UK Enterprise Investment Scheme, the UK Transitional Loan Fund, UK Regional Venture Capital Funds, UK High-Tech Funds, UK Early Growth Fund, UK Enterprise Challenge Fund, UK Aspire Fund, UK Investors in People and the UK Business Link Health Check programme. Internationally he has evaluated the SME financing activities of the Danish Growth Fund for the Danish Ministry, the design and effectiveness of European SME financing instruments for DG Regio of the European Union, and the Australian Innovation Investment Fund. He also assessed the potential viability of a loan guarantee scheme in Barbados for the Inter-American Development Bank. He was invited by the Swedish Government Growth Agency (Tillvaxtanalys) to present a case for a Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme for Sweden at a seminar attended by Swedish Secretary of State (with responsibility for Company Management, Competition, and State Ownership of Enterprises) Eva Lindström in March 2017. He articulated a case for the introduction of a new loan guarantee scheme in Sweden to alleviate problems around access to finance for smaller firms. His proposal is now being given further consideration by the Secretary of State.

Professor Marc Cowling is currently ranked in the top 8 per cent of economists in the world by citations (H-index) according to Research Publications in Economics (REPEC, July 7 2018), in the top 5 per cent of researchers on ResearchGate (October 7, 2016) and in entrepreneurship He was ranked 23rd in the world over the period 1995-2006 according to “Rankings of the Top Entrepreneurship Researchers and Affiliations”.

Scholarly biography

Marc Cowling is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Head of Research at Brighton Business School with responsibilities for facilitating and co-ordinating research activities across the school. A particular point of focus is on nurturing, mentoring, and developing early career staff to allow them to advance along a research track and contribute to the wider knowledge base.

He has a PhD in Business Economics from Warwick Business School and an MSc Economics from London University. Before his appointment at Brighton he was Professor and Head of the Department of Management Studies at Exeter Business School. Prior to that, he held the posts of Chief Economist at the Institute for Employment Studies and The Work Foundation. He has also held positions at Warwick Business School, Birmingham Business School (where he was Director of the Research Centre for Industrial Strategy) and London Business School (where he was Deputy Principal Investigator of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor).

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Warwick


  • HB Economic Theory
  • Small Business Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Public Policy
  • Labour Markets
  • Firm Dynamics

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2013 2018

On the productive efficiency of Australian businesses: firm size and age class effects

Cowling, M. & Tanewski, G., 22 Jun 2018, In : Small Business Economics. p. 1-14

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Firm age
Productive efficiency
Firm size
Value added

Did firm age, experience, and access to finance count? SME performance after the global financial crisis

Cowling, M., Liu, W. & Zhang, N., 10 May 2017, In : Journal of Evolutionary Economics. 28, 1, p. 77-100 24 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Global financial crisis
Firm age
Small and medium-sized enterprises
Access to finance

How entrepreneurship, culture and universities influence the geographical distribution of UK talent and city growth

Cowling, M. & Lee, N., 6 Mar 2017, In : Journal of Management Development. 36, 2, p. 178-195 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access

Internal Financial Management in Smaller, Entrepreneurial Businesses

Cowling, M. & Matthews, C., 1 Jan 2017, The SAGE Handbook of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Blackburn, R., De Clercq, D., Heinonen, J. & Wang, Z. (eds.). California, United States

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearch

The innovation debt penalty: Cost of debt, loan default, and the effects of a public loan guarantee on high-tech firms

Cowling, M., Ughetto, E. & Lee, N., 28 Jun 2017, In : Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 127, p. 166-176 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
High-tech firms
Loan guarantees