Dr Alex Nicholls is Professor of Social Entrepreneurship within the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. His research interests range across several key areas within social entrepreneurship and social innovation, including: the nexus of relationships between accounting, accountability and governance; public and social policy contexts; impact investing; and Fair Trade.
As the first staff member of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship in 2004, Nicholls has helped the Centre develop a global profile in researching and teaching social entrepreneurship.
Alex is the editor of Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change (Oxford University Press, 2006), the first book to present a wide-ranging, internationally-focused collection of key social entrepreneurship work from leading academics, policy makers and practitioners. His latest book is Social Innovation: Blurring Boundaries to Reconfigure Markets (Palgrave MacMIllan, 2011), a co-edited collection which explores solutions to many of the current ‘wicked problems’ confronting the world. The collection argues that social innovation offers potential solutions to climate change, the crisis of the welfare state, health pandemics and failures, social dislocation and inequality, and educational failure.
Alex is currently conducting research in Australia, Japan and India comparing political processes of social entrepreneurship at multiple socio-structural levels within each country and by fields, and across different country settings. This research will be presented in a new book Changing the Game: The Politics of Social Entrepreneurship, scheduled to be published in 2013.
Alex has worked extensively on Fair Trade and is one of the foremost scholars in this field, having co-authored a major research book, Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption (Sage, 2005), which is the most cited and best-selling academic book on the subject globally. He is about to embark on a new research project that examines Fair Trade certification and explores whether such mechanisms empower producers. He also serves as a non-Executive Director for a major Fair Trade clothing company.
Alex is a member of the Advisory Group for the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Social Enterprise Capacity Building Cluster and has served on the regional Social Enterprise Expert Group for the South East of England. He currently holds a visiting Fellowship at the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Social Impact, is an Honorary Fellow of the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham, and has also held a Fellowship at the Academy of Marketing Science.
Before his appointment at Saïd Business School in 2004, Alex served as a Lecturer in Marketing at Aston University. He has also held positions at the University of Surrey and Leeds Metropolitan University. Prior to academic life, Nicholls held senior management positions at the John Lewis Partnership, the largest mutual retailer in Europe.
Alex earned a BA (Hons), MA and PhD in English Language and Literature from King’s College, London and an MBA from Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.