Professor Nick Clifton

Department: Accounting, Economics and Finance

Office/Location: 2.46, Ogmore Building, Cardiff School of Management, Llandaff Campus

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2041 7159


Staff Overview

I joined Cardiff Metropolitan University in April 2009 from the School of Planning & Geography, Cardiff University. My main research interests lie in the fields of regional development, small business and entrepreneurship, networks, business strategy, innovation and creativity.

I have published over 140 contributions to academic and policy debates, including over 40 articles (a number in top-rated journals such as Regional Studies, Environment & Planning A, Environment & Planning C) and working papers, edited books (4), book chapters (14), research reports and conference papers (Regional Studies Association, American Association of Geographers, Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, European Regional Science Association) on the above.

I have been involved in extensive externally funded research, enterprise and consultancy, including for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), The Scottish Executive, Cardiff and Co, Welsh Government, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCFW), Federation of Small Business (FSB), Research Councils UK, and the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

  • Research Excellence Framework (REF) Coordinator for the School of Management
  • Cardiff School of Management Research Degree, Research and Enterprise Committee
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Professors and Readers promotion committee


  • ​Doctoral Supervision (Ph.D. / DBA): 6 current students.
    • Doctoral Students supervised to completion: 7
    • Doctoral Students examined: 13 (+1 MPhil)


​Major research projects have focused on the international knowledge-sourcing of SMEs, innovation networks, asymmetric devolution in UK and the design and delivery of economic development policies in the UK, and the first rigorous European quantitative and qualitative investigation of the ‘creative class’. Recent work has also explored the interplay between regional culture and regional branding. I am currently involved in a cross-disciplinary research with colleagues at Cardiff Met (School of Art & design) investigating innovation intermediaries, creativity and the use of ‘co-working’ spaces, and the spatial implications of remote working following Covid 19.

Key Publications

​Weidenfeld, A., Makkonen, T. and Clifton, N., (2021) “From interregional knowledge networks to systems” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 171.

Reuschke, D., Clifton. N., and Fisher, M. (2021) “Coworking in homes – mitigating the tensions of the freelance economy”, Geoforum, 119, 122-132.

Clifton, N., Al-Baimani, A., Jones, E. and Pugh, R. (2021) “Applying the ecosystem model in a new context? the case of business incubation in Oman” Growth and Change: A Journal of Urban and Regional Policy, 52(2), 663-686.

Clifton, N., Huggins, R., Pickernell, D., Prokop, D., Smith, D. and Thompson, P., (2020) “Networking and strategic planning to enhance small and medium‐sized enterprises growth in a less competitive economy”. Strategic Change, 29(6), 699-711.

Clifton, N., Füzi, A. and Loudon, G., (2019) “Coworking in the digital economy: Context, motivations, and outcomes” Futures,

Clifton, N. and Usai, A., (2018). Non-state nations: Structure, rescaling, and the role of territorial policy communities, illustrated by the cases of Wales and Sardinia. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 37(6), 1024-1044.

Clifton, N., Comunian, R. and Chapain, C. (2015) “Creative Regions in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities for Policy”, European Planning Studies, 23(12), 2331-2335.

Clifton, N. and Macaulay, T. (2015) “Creativity, Cohesion and the ‘Post-conflict ’Society: A Policy Agenda (Illustrated from the Case of Northern Ireland)”, European Planning Studies, 23 (12), 2370-2389.

Clifton, N., Huggins, R., Morgan, B. and Thompson, P. (2015) “An Appropriate Tool for Entrepreneurial Learning in SMEs? the case of the ‘20Twenty Leadership Programme’”, Local Economy, 30(5), 534-56.

Huggins, R., Prokop, D., Steffenson, R., Johnston, A. and Clifton, N. (2014), “The engagement of entrepreneurial firms with universities: Network formation, innovation, and resilience”, Journal of General Management, 40 (1), 23-51.

Comunian, R., Chapain, C., and Clifton, N. (2014) Editorial for Special Issue of City, Culture and Society on ‘Creative industries & creative policies: a European perspective?, 5(2), 51-53.

Clifton, N., (2014) "Towards a holistic understanding of county of origin effects? branding of the region, branding from the region" Journal of Destination Marketing & Management 3(2), 122–132.

Chapain, C., Clifton, N., and Comunian, R., (2013) ‘Understanding Creative Regions: Bridging the Gap between Global Discourses and Regional and National Contexts’, editorial for Regional Studies special issue on ‘Creative Regions: Diverging Dynamics for Creative Individuals and Industries between local policies and global discourses, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp 131-134.

Clifton, N., Cooke, P., and Hansen, H.K. (2013) “Towards a Reconciliation of the ‘Context-less’ with the ‘Space-less’? The Creative Class across Varieties of Capitalism – new evidence from Sweden and the UK”, Regional Studies, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp 201-215.

Clifton, N., O’Sullivan, D., and Pickernell, D., (2012) ‘Capacity-building, culture, and the contribution of public festivals: evaluating ‘Cardiff 2005’’, Event Management: an international journal, Vol.16, pp. 77–91.

Clifton, N. (2011) Regional culture in the market-place: place-branding and product branding as cultural exchange, European Planning Studies Vol. 19, No. 11. pp 1973-1994.

Huggins, R. and Clifton, N., (2011) ‘Competitiveness, Creativity, and Place-Based Development’, Environment and Planning A, Vol 43(6), pp 1341–1362.

Clifton, N., Pickernell, D., David, R., and Ehret, O. (2011) “An Analysis of Actual and Potential Clustering Structures, Stakeholder Governance Activities, and Cross-Locality Linkages in the Welsh Aerospace Industry”, European Planning Studies, Vol 19. No. 2, February 2011, pp. 279-309.

Clifton, N., Pickernell, D., Keast, R. and Senior, M., (2011) “Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Innovation Networks: An Initial Analysis of the Roles of Universities and other actors”, International Journal of Strategic Business Alliances Vol. 2, Nos. 1/2, pp.113–134. Special Issue on Creating value through effective governance of knowledge sharing processes in inter-organizational partnerships.

Comunian, R., Chapain, C. and Clifton, N., (2010) ‘Location, location, location: exploring the complex relationship between creative industries and place’ (Editorial), Creative Industries Journal 3: 1+2, pp. 5–10.

Clifton, N., Pickernell, D., Keast, R. and Senior, M., (2010) “Network structure, knowledge governance and firm performance: Evidence from innovation networks and SMEs in the UK”, Growth and Change, Vol. 41(3), pp. 337–373.

Clifton, N., and Cooke, P. (2009) “Knowledge workers and creativity in Europe and North America: a comparative review”, Creative Industries Journal, Vol. 2(1), 73-89. Special issue on The Drivers and Processes of Creative Industries in Regions and Cities.

Clifton, N., Pickernell, D., and Senyard, J. (2009) “Think Global, Act Local? Universities, SMEs, and Innovation Frameworks” Industry and Higher Education Vol. 23(2), 79-89.

Clifton, N. (2008) “The ‘creative class’ in the UK: an initial analysis”. Geografiska Annaler Series B, vol. 90 (1): 63–82.

Cooke, P., Clifton, N., and Oleaga, M. (2005) “Social Capital, Firm Embeddedness and Regional Development”, Regional Studies, 39 (8), 1065–1077.

Cooke, P., and Clifton, N. (2005) “Visionary, precautionary and constrained ‘varieties of devolution’ in the economic governance of the devolved UK territories”, Regional Studies, 39 (4), 437-451.

Clifton, N., (2001) “Systems Suppliers: Towards ‘Best Practice’?”, Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 8 No. 3, 172-190.

Brooksbank, D., Clifton, N., Jones-Evans, D., and Pickernell, D. (2001) “The End of the Beginning?: Welsh Regional Policy and Objective One”, European Planning Studies Vol. 9 No. 2, 255-274.

Other Projects and activities

​I am presently engaged (0.2FTE) on the WEFO-funded Circular Economy Innovation Communities project supporting public sector organisations to develop new service solutions and deliver Circular Economy benefits in South Wales.

I am a member of the Innovation Caucus funded by Innovate UK and the ESRC to support innovation-led growth and promote greater engagement between the social sciences and businesses. I am also an affiliated member of the Centre for Innovation Research (CIRCLE) at Lund University, Sweden. I also served on the Advisory Board of Cardiff Central Enterprise Zone.

I have served as a scientific reviewer for the following research funding bodies:

  • Economic and Social Research Council (UK)
  • Autonomous Province of Bolzano (South Tyrol)
  • Irish Research Council
  • Horizon 2020 (Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowships)
  • British Academy
  • Polish National Science Centre

External Links