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About James Derbyshire

My twenty-year long career has seen me work in higher education, private-sector consulting and government. Just prior to joining Chester University in 2023 I worked for eight years as a Senior Research Fellow at Middlesex University, a role that combined publishing academic journal papers, leading consulting projects for government, and leading grant bids and projects, such as that funded by the British Academy of Management. Prior to that I worked at Anglia Ruskin University (Research Fellow), at RAND Corporation (Senior Analyst on the Innovation & Technology Policy team), at Cambridge Econometrics (Senior Economist), at the European Commission (in an innovation policy unit) and at the technology consultancy Capgemini (Analyst). 

I have published widely in peer-reviewed journals such as: Risk Analysis, International Journal of Forecasting, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Technovation, Business HistoryEnvironment & Planning AEuropean Management Review, Applied Economics, Futures & Foresight Science, Futures, Local Economy, Journal of Business Venturing Insights.


My research interests coalesce around innovation and uncertainty management, with a particular focus on scenario-based approaches as an aid to decision-making under uncertainty. I am currently writing papers on the use of scenario methods for accelerating climate-change related socio-technical transitions and on scenario planning as an alternative form of rationality that takes account of the ambivalence, uncertainty and reflexivity prevalent in highly participatory decision contexts. For my PhD (completed in 2007), I examined the networks established by SMEs when innovating, relating different network configurations to different innovation outcomes using an agent-based model. I recently led a large project funded by the British Academy of Management, which examined the effect of scenario planning on the perception of uncertainty using Randomised Controlled Trials:

I am an editorial board member for the journals Futures & Foresight Science and Futures.

Published Work

Selected peer-reviewed publications:

  • Derbyshire, J. (2023) Cross-fertilising scenario planning and business history by process-tracing historical developments: Aiding counterfactual reasoning and uncovering history to come, Business History 65, 479-501.
  • Derbyshire, J. Dhami, M. K., Belton, I. & Önkal, D. (2023) The value of experiments in futures and foresight science: A reply, Futures & Foresight Science (in press).
  • Derbyshire, J., Feduzi, A. & Runde, J. (2022) Borrowing from Keynes‘ A Treatise on Probability: A non-probabilistic measure of uncertainty for scenario planning, European Management Review (in press).  
  • Derbyshire, J. & Morgan, J. (2022) Is seeking certainty in climate sensitivity measures counterproductive in the context of climate emergency? The case for scenario planning, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 182, 121811.
  • Derbyshire, J., Dhami, M., Belton, I. & Onkal, D. (2022) The value of experiments in futures and foresight science as illustrated by the case of scenario planning, Futures & Foresight Science (in press). 
  • Derbyshire, J. (2022) Increasing preparedness for extreme events using plausibility-based scenario planning: Lessons from COVID-19, Risk Analysis 42, 97-104.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2021) Dominant narratives, uncertainty denial, negative capability and conviction: A commentary on Fenton-O’Creevy and Tuckett 2021, Futures & Foresight Science 4, 3-4.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2020) History and scenario planning: A commentary on Schoemaker, Futures & Foresight Science 2, e47.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2020) Answers to questions on uncertainty in geography: Old lessons and new scenario tools, Environment & Planning A 52, 710-727.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2018) Use of scenario planning as a theory-driven evaluation tool, Futures & Foresight Science 1, e1.
  • Derbyshire, J. & Giovannetti, E. (2017) Understanding the failure to understand New Product Development failures, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 125, 334-34.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2017) Potential Surprise Theory as a theoretical foundation for scenario planning, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 124, 77-87.
  • Rowe, E., Wright, G. & Derbyshire, J. (2017) Enhancing Horizon Scanning by utilizing pre-developed scenarios, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 125, 224-235.
  • Derbyshire, J. & Wright, G. (2017) Augmenting the Intuitive Logics scenario planning method for a comprehensive analysis of causation, International Journal of Forecasting 33, 254-266.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2017) The siren call of probability: Dangers associated with using probability for consideration of the future, Futures 88, 43-54.  
  • Derbyshire, J. (2016) The implications, challenges and benefits of a complexity-orientated Futures Studies, Futures 77, 45-55.
  • Bradfield, R., Derbyshire, J. & Wright, G. (2016) The critical role of history in scenario thinking: Augmenting causal analysis within the Intuitive Logics scenario development methodology, Futures77, 56-66.
  • Derbyshire, J. & Wright, G. (2014) Preparing for the future: Development of an 'antifragile' methodology that complements scenario planning by omitting causation, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 82, 215-225.        
  • Derbyshire, J. (2014) The impact of ambidexterity on enterprise performance: Evidence from 15 countries and 14 sectors, Technovation 34, 574-581.
  • Derbyshire, J. & Garnsey, E. (2014) Firm growth and the illusion of randomness, Journal of Business Venturing Insights 1-2, 8-11.
  • Derbyshire, J., Gardiner, B. & Waights, S. (2013) Estimating the capital stock for the NUTS2 regions of the EU27, Applied Economics 45, 1133-1149.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2013) The survival half-life of firms and its effect on economic development, Local Economy 28, 114-122.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2013) High-growth firms: More reasons for caution? Local Economy 28, 355-357.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2012) High-growth firms: Policy panacea or a need for caution? Local Economy 27, 326-328.
  • Derbyshire, J. & Haywood, G. (2010) Labour, the enterprise gap and the Red Queen, Local Economy 25, 328-338.
  • Derbyshire, J. (2010) Will policies designed to encourage links between European clusters weaken their internal dynamics? Local Economy 25, 328-338.
  • Derbyshire, J. & Haywood, G. (2009) Uncovering creative destruction: A new method and data source, Local Economy 24, 310-322.

Book review:

  • Derbyshire, J. (2020) Review of Mario Morroni, ‘What is the truth about the Great Recession and increasing inequality? Dialogues on Disputed Issues and Conflicting Theories’, Cham: Springer, 2018, Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi LIII, 289-292.

Selected government reports to which I have contributed:

  • 2021 – Digital Catapult Evaluation Framework, Digital Catapult & Innovate UK.
  • 2018 – Foresight: The art of the possible and the state of the art, Defence Science & Technology Laboratory, Ministry of Defence.
  • 2017 – Exploring the value of defence jobs in the UK. Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
  • 2017 – Applying robustness to long-term defence planning, Defence Science & Technology Laboratory, Ministry of Defence.
  • 2017 – Scoping of the National Evaluation of the 2014-20 English ERDF Programme: National Evaluation Report, Department for Communities & Local Government.
  • 2016 – Regional Growth Fund Evaluation: Detailed Report, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
  • 2016 – Regional Growth Fund Evaluation: Case Studies Synthesis Report, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
  • 2015 – Small Business Survey: Linking 2006 and 2007 waves to the IDBR, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
  • 2014 – European Cluster Trends: Methodological Report. European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry.
  • 2012 – Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2012: Methodology Report. European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry.
  • 2012 – Chief Economist Workshop: Key macro drivers of change and scenarios for the next ten years. UK Government Office for Science.
  • 2011 – Are the EU's SMEs recovering? Annual Report on EU SMEs 2010/11. European Commission. DG Enterprise & Industry.
  • 2010 – Estimating the capital stock for the NUTS2 regions of the European Union. European Commission, DG Regional Policy.


PhD in innovation management, Liverpool University, 2007.

MBA (with distinction), Durham University, 2004.

BA (Hons) History, Liverpool University, 1999.