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 management at Aberdeen Business School and head of year for the level four management programmes. He is an active researcher of small family businesses and entrepreneurship and teaches on a variety of subjects related to business strategy and business development. 

In 2009 he achieved distinction in MSc Operations Management at Caledonian Business School, Glasgow, and completed his 2013 Ph.D. on organisational 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 actively reviews for the Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship; European Management Review; and Personnel Review. His current work focuses on knowledge sharing and identity within small family firms and the social construction of entrepreneurship.

Research Interests

Dr Cunningham’s current research projects include explorations of: non-family identity in family business; the social status of entrepreneurs in Germany; and entrepreneurship in the creative sectors of Berlin.  Dr Cunningham supervises on a number of Ph.D. projects.

James is currently working on 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 completing a 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. James is investigating how these entrepreneurs are embedded both socially, in the artistic scene of the city, and economically, in the market opportunities of Berlin.  

Professional Memberships

Institute for small business and entrepreneurship (ISBE)

University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD)

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)?


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, doi:10.1177/0894486516682667

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  

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. (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