Simon Ville - Staff Profile PhotoProfessor Simon Ville

BA (Hons) in History (University College London), PhD in Economic History (University College London, 4th in QS ranking 2013)

Publications: Simon Ville Research Profile
Resume/CV: Simon Ville Brief CV


Simon Ville is Senior Professor of Economic and Business History, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry in the Faculty of Law, Humanities and Arts. Since joining the University of Wollongong in 2001 he has variously served terms as Head of School of Humanities and Social Inquiry in the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, Head of School of Economics, Associate-Dean Research, and Acting Dean in the Faculties of Business and of Law, Humanities and the Arts.

He previously worked at the Australian National University, and the universities of Auckland and Manchester, with visiting positions at Harvard Business School, University College London, London School of Economics, the Universities of Glasgow and Melbourne, and the Australian National University.

Research interests

Simon’s main research areas are Australian and international economic and business history, comparative economic development, and international business. He has written widely on big business, industry associations, innovation, social capital, the Vietnam War, and the rural and resource industries for major publishers such as Cambridge, Oxford and Melbourne University Presses and leading international journals including American Economic Review, Industrial and Corporate Change, Journal of Economic History and Journal of Management Studies. He collaborates with scholars from USA, Norway, Britain, and Japan and recently edited the Cambridge Economic History of Australia.

Current research projects

A History of Foreign Multinationals in Australia
With Professor David Merrett (Melbourne), Associate-Professor Andre Sammartino (Melbourne), Associate-Professor Pierre van der Eng (ANU).
International collaborator: Professor G. Jones, Harvard Business School

The Economic and Social Effects of Military Service
With Dr Peter Siminski, UTS, and Dept of Veteran Affairs. ARC linkage.

Successful Resource-Based Economies: Historical Comparisons of Australia and Norway.
International collaboration: Prof O. Wicken, University of Oslo

Business Groups in the West: The Evolutionary Dynamics of Diversified Big Business
International collaboration Professors A. Colpan and T. Hikino, Kyoto University.

The Global Business of Natural History, c.1800-1920
With Dr Jude Philp (Senior Curator, Macleay Museum), Dr Anne Coote (UNE), Professor Deirdre Coleman (University of Melbourne). Commenced research collaboration 2014.

Visualising Interdisciplinary Agency: the life cycle of economic history in Australia
With Claire Wright (PhD scholar University of Wollongong)

Survivorship of Firms in Australia
With Professor D. Merrett and Dr L. Panza, University of Melbourne

The Smart Sodium Storage System for Renewable Energy Storage
With Professor Shi Xue Dou and Institute of Superconducting and Electronic Materials at University of Wollongong

A History of the Global Wool Trade
With Professor D. Merrett University of Melbourne

Selected/recent publications

  • 2017 Simon Ville, ‘Business Groups in Australia’ in A. Colpan and Takashi Hikino eds Business Groups in the West (Oxford University Press).
  • 2017 Simon Ville and David Merrett, ‘Australia: Settler capitalism sans doctrines’ in John Wilson, Steve Toms, Abe de Jong and Emily Buchnea, eds The Routledge Companion to Business History (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge), pp. 159-72.
  • 2017 Alex Cousley, Peter Siminski, Simon Ville, ‘The Effects of World War II Military Service: the Australian Experience’ Journal of Economic History 77, 3.
  • 2017 Laura Panza, Simon Ville, and David Merrett, ‘Size, profitability and survivorship: the performance of large scale enterprise in Australia’. Business History.
  • 2017 Simon Ville and Claire Wright, ‘Neither a Discipline nor a Colony: Renaissance and Re-imagination in Economic History’. Australian Historical Studies 46, 2
  • 2016 Simon Ville and David Merrett, ‘Too big to save: explaining the timing and nature of intervention in the Australian wool market, 1916-1991’. Australian Journal of Politics and History. 62, 3, pp.337-352
  • 2016 Peter Siminski, Simon Ville and Alexander Paull, ‘Does the Military Train Men to be Violent Criminals? New Evidence from Australia’s Conscription Lotteries’. Journal of Population Economics 29, 1: 197-218.
  • 2015 - Simon Ville and Glenn Withers, Cambridge Economic History of Australia (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press).

Potential topics for HDR & Honours Supervision

  • The formative ideas and key thinkers in the discipline of economic history
  • The history of consumption in Australia
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to research
  • The history and impact of multinational enterprise in Australia
  • Business Groups in Australia
  • Innovation and growth in primary industries
  • Global wool trade
  • Global trade in natural history
  • Inter-sectoral linkages and the role of wool in economic development
  • The economic and social consequences of the Vietnam War
  • Industry associations and business groups
  • Business enterprise and capitalism in colonial Australia
  • Histories of major firms and sectors in twentieth-century Australia
  • Business profitability and performance

Selected awards and fellowships 

  • 2012 Alfred D. Chandler International Fellow in Business History, Harvard Business School
  • 2009 Best article in Enterprise and Society
  • 2006 Elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia
  • 2003 McComish International Book Prize in Economic History 

Recent keynote invitations: 

  • 2016 Simon Ville, ‘Economy, culture and place in the making of a seafaring nation in Britain’. Invitation to ‘Institute for Ocean Culture and Policy’, Mokpo Maritime University, South Korea
  • 2014 Simon Ville, ‘Resilience and fragility in the Asian century: refocussing Australia’s economic narratives through the lens of economic history’. The 2014 Keith Hancock Lecture for the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (University of Melbourne)
  • 2014 ‘Divergence and Convergence: the Contested Terrain of Long Run Economic Development in Asia and Europe’ (University lecture, Kyoto University). 

Professional membership

  • Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (fellow);
  • Member of the College of Experts at the Australian Research Council.
  • Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand (former President);
  • Association of Business Historians (GB);
  • Australian and New Zealand International Business Academy;
  • European Business History Association;
  • Australian Historical Association;
  • Business History Conference (USA);
  • Economic History Association (USA);
  • Economic History Society (GB);
  • Economics Society (Australia); International Maritime Economic History Association.

Recent Competitive research funding 

  • 2015 Australian Renewal Energy Agency (ARENA), ‘The Smart Sodium Storage System for Renewable Energy Storage’. Economic Analysis component.
  • 2010-12 ARC Discovery grant, ‘Reassessing the role of industry associations through an examination of Australian and New Zealand wool marketing, 1890-1960’. With Prof D. Merrett, University of Melbourne.
  • 2010-11 ARC Linkage grant, ‘The long term causal effects of Vietnam War era conscription on economic and social outcomes for Australian conscripts’. With Dr P. Siminski, University of Wollongong. Partner: Federal Department of Veteran Affairs.


Last reviewed: 6 March, 2019