Who cares?

No-one cares anymore. About anything. At least, nothing that really matters. It’s all style and no substance. It’s all cost-cutting, down-sizing, automating, agile, lean, do-it-yourself. Want to speak to someone? Forget it. Fill in a form – online. How about a cardboard cut-out police officer – just as good as the real thing. And, of course, cheaper.

Just take a moment to scroll through Instagram; browse through the magazines that adorn your local newsagents or flick through the TV channels. Nothing is about what people are doing – everything is about what people are consuming. Ask not what you can do for anyone – ask what filter is best for your selfie. Because you’re worth it.

Of course I know this isn’t true. Or at least it’s not the whole truth. I’m lucky, because I am a public administration scholar and in my job I get to meet incredible people every day. People who do care and are making a difference to the most vulnerable in our society. Social workers, teachers, nurses, police officers, fire and rescue officers, local government officers, policy officers, researchers and academics who are all bound by their passion for public service delivery and their strong commitment to civic duty.

Yet so much of the work of our public servants is undermined by their political masters and the media. Those who are less fortunate in life are classed as undeserving and are parodied or seen as sources of entertainment or amusement (take for example the case of so-called Slum Tourism or ‘Poverty Porn‘ on TV) . Those who work to support them are pilloried for being over-paid, clock-watching (by Michael Gove MP), lazy or self-interested. Yet politicians can lie, make fun of ethnic minorities or the disabled and can even threaten our economic and social security without impunity.

One hundred years ago the world was a very different place. The Great War was coming to an end. Women were beginning (albeit slowly) to secure their right to vote. In the midst of growing academic interest in management science and concern for the implementation of policy a group of esteemed scholars, activists and practitioners, including Professors E.J. Urwick and Sidney Webb, met in London to discuss what was to become the Joint University Council. Today we need a new vision and purpose to reflect current challenges and to ensure we maintain our relevance for the next 100 years.

It is important that this new vision and purpose reflects real life. After all, public administration is where politics meets real life: it’s the delivery of political decisions in local settings. The term has been cause of much academic debate in the last thirty years. Academics have argued over traditional public administration, New Public Management and, more recently, New Public Governance. There have been debates about whether New Public Governance exists? Is it a useful concept? How does it relate to New Public Management and Public Administration? Do New Public Governance and New Public Management represent paradigm shifts or do they represent a continuum? But often these debates serve little more than to increase citations before the next REF cycle comes along. Really, we need to set our ambitions a bit higher than that.

Meanwhile our public servants, who increasingly cannot afford their own homes, are actually trying to make a difference to communities through effective service delivery in face of political and media contempt for their work and for the people they serve. They want to know what works, they want validation for the work they do, they want to know how they can do it better. From this perspective some academic debates can appear to be little more than academics picking fluff from their own navels. Academics are no longer at risk of being seen as out of touch – that is the common perception.

That’s why our centenary event will not be a traditional academic conference. Yes, the academic community will be an important part of it. We need those voices. But even moreso we, as academics, need to listen. That is why it is being arranged as an unconference. But in order for this to be effective we need YOU to come, to get involved, to speak up. This is likely to be the most significant meeting for social and public administration since that very first meeting of the JUC in 1918. Just like that first meeting we need academics, activists and practitioners to come. We need people who care. So sign up now, invite others, and let’s set the agenda for the next 100 years.

Click here to help set our agenda for the next 100 years.

Tagged , ,

Happy New Year

There are many diary formats including the standard 12 month (Jan-Dec) diary and the ‘academic’ (Aug-July) diary (some nice ones listed here). So for many of those who work or study within universities the traditional New Year (or Hogmanay) celebrations simply mark a mid-point. Indeed many academics find themselves working through the festive period either marking, prepping for the next term / semester, completing grant applications (many of which inexcusably have deadlines early in January), writing research papers or editing / reviewing.

So for those who live by the ‘academic’ year the 1 September marks the beginning of a ‘new year’. There will be freshers coming with excitement and perhaps some trepidation about commencing their studies; there will be students returning to study, looking forward to their new courses and anxious to achieve good grades; there will be returning academics keen to try out new course materials and looking forward to meeting new students; and many others who either work with or are associated with universities ready to start the new year.

For me it is a particularly exciting time as I’m starting a new post as Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership and Management at Northumbria University. Northumbria is one of the top 50 universities in the UK and it’s Business School is double accredited with AACSB making it one of the top Business Schools in the world. Along with being an outstanding institution and having a world-leading Business School the university has a long history of public administration scholarship. Former members of staff include the late Professor Howard Elcock. Currently there are many public administration scholars working at the university and they are due to host the JUC Public Administration Committee Annual Conference and Doctoral Workshop from 10-12 September this year. I’m really looking forward to helping them expand their teaching and research in public leadership and management in my new role.

Whatever you are doing this academic year I wish you all the very best. Happy New Year!

Tagged , , ,

One Week To Go

It’s been a tough summer. Lots of ups and downs. A fair amount of pain. At last there’s only one week to go. I really couldn’t have got through this without a lot of support from family and friends. But finally it’s almost over.

Since April I’ve been taking part in the Running Down Dementia Challenge for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The challenge was to run 100km and raise £100 by 31 August. Having done no running in four years I figured it would be a big challenge but that I might be able to do it.

Please give here: https://runningdowndementia2018.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-4#

Initially I started run-walk-run and the first few weeks were really tough. A group of friends started a Sunday morning run and this really helped keep my motivation up. What also helped was the huge amount of generosity from friends and family in donating to my fundraising page. With every pound donated I ran a little further and tried a little harder. Soon I was able to run my first 10k in quite a few years. It wasn’t easy – but I did it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My fundraising total kept going up and local press were very kind in raising the profile of my challenge. Thanks to the Edinburgh Evening News and the Ballymoney Times in particular for featuring my story. I’ve also received very generous support from Newbridge Financial Planning and even my aunts have helped in the fundraising efforts in my hometown of Ballymoney. It’s been a big team effort!

Help fund research into prevention, treatment and cures for the diseases that cause dementia here: https://runningdowndementia2018.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-4#

All the time I’ve been thinking about my mum and others in her position who are living with dementia. While she is happy I know that there is so much more she would want to do. Living with dementia has really restricted what she can do in her retirement years and it has been difficult for all the family. Right now there are 850,000 families in the UK facing similar challenges. Alzheimer’s Research UK fund research into treatments, prevention and cures for the diseases that cause dementia. Every pound donated will support this effort.

At the start of this journey I was hoping to run 100km and raise £100. With one week to go I’ve ran 227km and raised £2134.80. I am hugely grateful to all my 87 donors and with every step I run I can feel 87 people cheering me on. It’s an incredible feeling.

It has been a tough summer. There has been a fair amount of pain, blisters and sore legs! But I’ve loved it. And it’s not over yet. So please, if you can give anything to help fund the amazing work of Alzheimer’s Research UK click on the link below and give what you can.

Thank you!

https://runningdowndementia2018.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-4#

Tagged ,

Save Scottish Public Administration

THIS POST HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY DELETED.

Tagged , , ,

Interview with Steven McCabe, Master of Public Administration (MPA) student.

This post first appeared on the QMU website: https://www.qmu.ac.uk/study-here/student-stories/steven-mccabe-master-of-public-adminstration-20180518/

I was looking for a course that would build on my previous qualifications and work experience, as well as increase my understanding of the issues facing public sector professionals and how to best overcome these and deliver high quality public services. This was part of my continuing personal development through my job, but I also wanted to study a course that would allow me to progress in my career as well. Initially I considered studying an MBA, but the direct relevance of the MPA to my work, along with the course focus on social justice and equality really attracted me to study at QMU instead. The fact that the MPA was a taught course, with weekly classes where students could learn from each other’s experiences and engage with each other was a major factor in me choosing to study the MPA at QMU. The programme leader’s knowledge and understanding of the issues facing the public sector was another reason for making this course selection.

There is a level of commitment required to study the MPA, and the workload at times has been quite high, especially as I’ve been working full-time as well as studying. It has been stressful at times, especially when I’ve had really busy periods at work and there’s been assignments due for the course, however, it’s never been completely overwhelming and the level of support, from both tutors and other students, has been fantastic. There’s a real togetherness and camaraderie between students on the course, with the part-time students especially understanding the pressures we’re all facing whilst juggling full time work with study. Through the course we’ve all supported each other, ensuring that we’re all coping with the demands of the course. We regularly chat outside of university if we have anything we’re unsure of. The course really has been a great way to network and make new friends!

The tutors on the course are all extremely knowledgeable and happy to spend time with you if you have any additional questions or need help or support.

This will be my third university degree and the overall learning environment on the MPA at QMU has by far been the most supportive, engaging and inclusive that I’ve experienced.

The course is constantly evolving and improving, with the tutors and the course director especially taking a real interest in the thoughts and needs of students. There have been numerous changes to the course in the two years that I’ve studied the MPA that have been made after suggestions or comments from students. There are regular tutor/student meetings to discuss what could be improved upon or what’s working well, and feedback is always well received and fully considered. Students on the MPA have a strong voice and can directly influence how the course is delivered.

There is also the opportunity for students to go on a fully-funded (well, apart from beer money!) field-trip to Brussels, as part of the MPA. This really brought students and course tutors together as a group, and had a real positive impact on how we supported each other and learnt from each other. There was an important practical element to the trip as well, with it being a great opportunity to see how the things that we’ve been taught in class were being applied in the European Parliament. The field-trip definitely enhanced the engagement and understanding I had of the concepts that we learnt about during classes.

The course has absolutely equipped me with additional skills and knowledge which have been directly applicable in my job. The course also has a focus on improving students’ leadership skills, with students undertaking a leadership exchange through ACOSVO as part of this. I feel, quite strongly, that my performance at work was improved by studying on the course, and becoming aware of wider issues in public administration that I perhaps might not have been aware of prior to studying the MPA. I’ve also been lucky enough to have progressed to a new job while studying on the course, and have just started a job as a Policy Manager with the Scottish Government. I can honestly say that the MPA definitely helped me develop my career and played a part in me getting the job.

 

You can find out more about the MPA on our course page here: www.edinburghmpa.co.uk

 

Make sure to LIKE our Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/EdinburghMPA

Tagged , , , , ,

My mum

My mum and dad married in 1965. Soon after they bought a small cottage just outside the town of Ballymoney. My dad has often recalled the time my mum first saw their new home – she cried. It was, by all accounts, a complete ramshackle with lots of damp and wallpaper peeling off the walls. They had bought two cottages that sat side by side with the goal of putting them together into one modern bungalow. In the meantime they lived in a cold and damp 1960’s caravan in the garden.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My mum worked in the NHS. She attended training in Belfast. She was respected and liked by all staff in the Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ballymoney. By all accounts she was on the fast track to a senior administration post in the health service. During the day she would work in the hospital and at night would help my dad, uncles and friends to convert the two old cottages into a modern 1970’s bungalow.

In 1973 my brother came along. There was no maternity leave entitlement back then – which meant she had to leave her job in the NHS. Instead she took up a part-time position in the nearby rural sub-post office.

My brother started primary school and then I came along. My mum was by now sub-post mistress and looked after us during the day alongside running a very busy sub-post office and shop.

I remember people queuing outside the post office early in the mornings. It would often be opened before 8am and seemed to never shut. When it was shut people would ring the doorbell. Day and night mum would always answer – always putting her customers and the community before all else, fuelled by a bottomless tea cup.

Holidays were restricted by the needs of the post office. So Bank Holidays would be used in order to get a long weekend. Every now and again there would be a trip to Scotland or to different parts of Northern Ireland. But we’d always have to be back in time for opening the post office. Sick days were even rarer. The post office really never shut.

Any money that was saved went to furthering mine and my brothers education. Piano lessons, singing lessons, private tuition, Encyclopedia Britannia (Google it). Anything that would help us succeed in life.

As if all of this wasn’t enough public service my mum also gave blood. She donated blood for many years and received a Gold Badge for donating over 50 times.

In the late 1990’s the post office was robbed. Masked men entered the house. My mum was tied up with cables pulled from the back of our old TV set. A gun held at her head. But she wouldn’t give away the keys to the safe and instead tricked the masked gunmen into sounding the alarm. They were caught. The gang leader was son of a lottery winner. He got five years in prison – out in three.

My mum continued to serve the community. A new alarm system and safe were installed at personal expense. We got a dog.

My mum continued to run the post office for many years while both me and my brother moved out, went to university, got jobs, families. Over time her memory started to fade. Then her mood changed. Then things that she’d always done, like washing the kitchen floor every night, stopped being done. I didn’t notice at first. Then it became hard to ignore. Running the post office eventually became impossible. After forty years of continuous service it closed.

Later, even living at home became impossible. Too dangerous, and too onerous on my dad, who had his own health problems to manage. She now lives happily in an amazing care home (paid for by her pension and life savings). It’s not a life she choose. It’s a life dictated by Alzheimer’s Disease.

My mum doesn’t have the retirement she deserves after more than 50 years of working life. She hasn’t got to know the grandchildren she always wanted. She doesn’t get to play and look after them as she would like. The crippling nature of dementia has stripped all that away. She is happy, happiest in the company of visitors, and there are still wonderful moments of clarity and lucidity. But so much has been lost.

Looking back now I can’t help think of the endless sacrifices she made but at the same time I know that to her it wasn’t sacrifice – it was love. This is why I am raising money for Alzheimer’s Research. For every £1 donated 84p goes towards research to fight dementia. It may be too late for my mum but hopefully the work of Alzheimer’s Research UK will help millions of people in the future.

Please donate to my fundraising page listed below. Every pound helps. Thank you.

https://runningdowndementia2018.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-4

Tagged , ,

Academic Posts Available at QMU

Queen Margaret University are currently recruiting to the following posts:

  • Senior Lecturer in Marketing
  • Senior Lecturer in Finance and Accounting
  • Lecturer in Business Management
  • Lecturer in Finance and Accounting

We are one of only two universities in Scotland to run an MPA programme. We also have a professional doctorate in public administration (the DPA). These are very successful and growing parts of our activity within the Division of Business, Enterprise and Management. As such we really need people who can work across our core business management programmes as well as the MPA and supervise both PhD and DPA students. Please circulate this message to anyone you think might be interested in applying.

I am also happy to discuss these opportunities with anyone who may be interested in applying. The closing date for all applications is 19 February.
Full information including how to apply can be found here: https://www.qmu.ac.uk/footer/vacancies/vacancies/

Tagged , , ,

The Scottish Approach to Public Services

I currently have a PhD bursary available on the topic of ‘The Scottish Approach to Public Services’. The Scottish Approach has been defined as encompassing three principles in the design and delivery of public services:

  • Coproduction
  • Assets-based approaches
  • Improvement methodology

Lots has been written on the topic (for example, Cairney 2014, Cairney et al. 2016, Coutts and Brotchie, 2017; Elvidge, 2011; Ferguson, 2015; Housden, 2014) but previous research is often based on explorations of the general principles of the Scottish Approach and understandings of how they influence the policy making process. Less has been written about how the Scottish Approach influences practice in localised contexts such as, for example, local government, higher education or social work.

As such I thought it would be interesting to investigate how the Scottish Approach may influence practice. I didn’t want to be prescriptive about which practice setting the research should focus on but I have provided a few examples which will hopefully spark some thoughts. Previously I have written about why do a PhD (click here to go to the blog post) but ultimately if you are passionate about education then doing a PhD is a fantastic opportunity to study a topic in great depth over a three year period.

The QMU PhD Bursary covers:

  • a full waiver of tuition fees;
  • an annual stipend of £14,553 lasting 3 years for full-time study; and
  • a research budget of £2,000 to cover project expenses and travel.

For more information on the bursary see here: https://www.qmu.ac.uk/study-here/postgraduate-research-study/graduate-school-and-doctoral-research/phd-bursary-competition/ 

For more information on the research topic see here:  https://www.qmu.ac.uk/media/4209/cass-phd-bursary-topics-2018.pdf 

 

References:

Cairney, P. (2014) “The Territorialisation of Interest Representation in Scotland: Did Devolution Produce a New Form of Group-Government Relations?”, Territory, Politics, Governance, DOI: 10.1080/21622671.2014.952326

Cairney, P., Russell, S. and St Denny, E. (2016) “The ‘Scottish approach’ to policy and policymaking: what issues are territorial and what are universal?”, Policy & Politics, Vol. 44 (3), 333–50.

Coutts, P. and Brotchie, J. 2017. The Scottish Approach to evidence. A discussion paper.
Alliance for Useful Evidence. Carnegie UK Trust.

Elvidge, J. (2011) Northern Exposure. Lessons from the first twelve years of devolved
government in Scotland. Institute for Government. London.

Ferguson, Z. (2015) What is the ‘Scottish Approach’?, Alliance for Useful Evidence, London. Available online at: https://www.alliance4usefulevidence.org/what-is-the-scottish-approach/

Housden, P. (2014) “This is us: A perspective on public services in Scotland”, Public Policy
and Administration, Vol. 29 (1), 64-74.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

MPA Research Seminar Series 2018

We are hosting a research seminar series at Queen Margaret University over this semester. The topic of the seminars is ‘Public Leadership in Turbulent Times’. The seminars will bring some of the top scholars of public policy and administration to Edinburgh to discuss their latest research.

 

Each of the speakers is listed below. Click on the links to reserve your FREE place:

Megan Mathias, Cardiff University, “Senior Civil Servants as Leaders – evidence from Wales and New Zealand’”, 22 February 2018 10-12pm

Lucy Hunter Blackburn, University of Edinburgh, “The pros and cons of a powerful narrative: the case of free tuition”, 1 March 2018 10-12pm

Russ Glennon, Nottingham Trent University, “Unpacking and Negotiating Accountabilities in UK Local Government” 8 March 2018 10-12pm

Sarah Cooper, University of Exeter, “Gender in Healthcare: The Politics of Fertility” 15 March 2018 10-12pm

Muiris MacCarthaigh, Queen’s University Belfast, “Never waste a crisis: Public sector reform and policy entrepreneurship in Ireland“, 22 March 2018 10-12pm

Bert George, Erasmus University Rotterdam, “Too much of a good thing? Nonlinearity in public management” 29 March 2018 10-12pm

Peter Matthews, Stirling University, “Queer(y)ing policy studies: understanding the experience of public service delivery for LGBT+ people“, 29 March 2018 3:30pm-5:30pm

 

You may also download this pdf which lists all seven research seminars here: Seminar Series – Schedule of Speakers.

 

The MPA Research Seminar Series has been sponsored by the JUC Public Administration Committee (PAC) – the UK’s Learned Society for Public Administration. All research seminars in this series are free to the public and will be of interest to anyone motivated by public service.

 

You can reserve a FREE place here: MPA Research Seminar Series – Eventbrite Link. Please note that you must reserve a place at each individual research seminar in order to be guaranteed a space. All seminars are taking place at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Information on how to get to our campus is available here: https://www.qmu.ac.uk/location-and-getting-here/

 

The call for proposals is now open for the next funding round for both the PAC Research Seminar Series and PAC Small Research Grant. Details are available here.

 

NB: Tea and coffee will be provided.

Tagged , , , ,

Would you like £2,000?

Would you like some money to support a small piece of research or to deliver a research seminar series? Are you an Early Career Researcher or Doctoral Student wanting to differentiate your CV? Would £2,000 help you develop a small piece of research – potentially as a launch pad to a larger scale grant application?

 

Increasingly academics are being encouraged to apply for external funding – consequently many of these funds are becoming more and more competitive. At the JUC Public Administration Committee our role is to support the future of public administration research and teaching. As such we have developed these two new funding competitions:

 

If you are an early career researcher, doctoral student or even established academic within public administration we would love to hear your ideas. You should be within an institutional member of PAC or have attended the PAC Annual Conference in order to be eligible to apply. To find out about joining PAC please email our secretary: sandraodelljuc @ yahoo.co.uk

Tagged , , ,