robin pearson

Professor Robin Pearson

Professor of Economic History

Faculty of Business, Law and Politics

+44 (0) 1482 466301

Professor Pearson holds a Masters degree from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD from the University of Leeds.

He has published widely on aspects of the British and European insurance industry and on themes such as financial services innovation, capital formation, corporate governance, business networking and moral hazard in a range of international journals including Economic History Review, Business History Review and Business History.

His publications have been awarded the Newcomen-Harvard Article Award for Business History in 2002, the Wadsworth Prize for Business History in 2004 and the Ralph Gomory Prize for Business History in 2013.


Research Interests

  • Modern business, economic, financial and urban history.
  • The insurance of the transatlantic slave trade
  • Lloyds of London
  • The San Francisco earthquake of 1906
  • Non-corporate forms of large enterprise
  • Insurance law
  • US property insurance markets in the 19th and early 20th centuries

Research groups

Collaborated with international teams of scholars on major projects funded by business corporations, including the Swiss Re of Zurich and the Dai-ichi Life insurance Company of Japan


Pearson R, Insuring the Industrial Revolution: Fire Insurance in Great Britain 1700-1850, (2004) - awarded the 2004 Wadsworth Prize for Business History

Pearson R (ed), The History of the Company, eight volumes, Pickering and Chatto (2006/7)

Pearson R (ed), The Development of International Insurance, Pickering and Chatto (2010)

Pearson R, Freemand M and Taylor J, Shareholder Democracies? Corporate Governance in Britain and Ireland before 1850, University of Chicago Press (2012) - awarded the 2012 Ralph Gomery Prize for Business History

Pearson R and Takau Yoneyama (eds), Corporate Forms and Organisational Choice in International Insurance, Oxford University Press (2015)


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Business Environments
  • International Business
  • International Business DT MBA

Research PhDs

Prof Pearson is interested in supervising candidates working on a range of topics in modern economic, business and financial history since 1700, including international finance, capital exports, multinational business, corporate governance, urban development and social relations, social capital, mercantile and business networks, the insurance industry, aspects of risk and risk perception, the history of natural disasters, the interface of law, business and politics.

Completed PhDs

  • Mika Suonpaa, British Perceptions of the Balkan Slavs: Professional and Popular Categorisations before 1914 (2008)

Current PhD supervisions

  • George Borrinaga, A History of Community Resilience and Identity Formation in Samar and Lyte, Philippines, 1621-Present
  • Loreta Zydeliene, Conservation Ideas and Economic Realities: Assessing the Effect of the Great Depression on the Lithuanian Forest Landscape 1918-1940



Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • MA Hons (Edinburgh)
  • PhD (Leeds)

External roles

  • External examiner for PhD theses at the universities of Umea (Sweden), Seville (Spain) and Johannesburg (South Africa)
  • Member of Research College, Economic and Social Research Council (UK)
  • Contracted Expert Reviewer, European Research Council (EU)
  • Member of Editorial Board of the international journal, Business History
  • Employed by journals, publishers and funding bodies around the world as an advisor and peer reviewer, including Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada; AXA Research Fund, France; National Research Foundation, South Africa; Athens University of Economics and Business; Research Foundation Flanders.

Awards and accolades

  • Awarded the Newcomen-Harvard Article Award for Business History in 2002
  • Awarded the Wadsworth Prize for Business History in 2004
  • Awarded the Ralph Gomory Prize for Business History in 2013
  • Awarded several research grants by the Nuffield Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)