Author Archives: iancelliott

PAC Annual Conference – Closing Address 2019

Did you enjoy our annual conference? I hope you did! This year we had almost 100 abstracts submitted from delegates across 12 countries. It has been the largest and most international PAC Annual Conference in many years.

People often ask me why I do it. Why be Chair of the PAC? Why convene the annual conference? I know that the drive within academia is towards more and more instrumentalism – and the time it takes to do these things I could be writing research bids or journal papers. But I hope that you can see, having participated in the sessions, heard from Professor Barbara Crosby and Rt Hon Baroness Grey-Thompson, and had fun at the conference dinner, why I feel it is a great privilege and honour to serve as your Chair.

The Joint University Council is the UK Learned Society for pubic administration, public policy and social work. As such we have a very important position as the voice of the public administration community. We therefore have the ability to inform and shape the nature of our subject. At this conference there have been many great ground-breaking pieces of research presented but also three things that will help to shape our subject in the future:

1. The conference theme

We made the conscious decision to include marginalisation within the conference theme. This was in recognition that we need to do more to include aspects of marginalisation within our subject. And it was great to see some papers exploring issues related to BAME communities, LGBTQ+ issues and alternative methodological approaches such as post-structuralism and critical realism. For some time now public administration has been a marginalised subject – particularly within business schools. We are lucky that, at Northumbria University, the subject is valued but that is not the case for many of our colleagues and so we have an important role to play in both advocating for more public administration but also pushing the boundaries of what public administration is and who it involves.

2. REF Post-2021

Within the conference packs you will have seen our REF Post-2021 Position Statement. This was developed with the PAC together with colleagues from the special interest groups from the Political Studies Association (PSA) and British Academy of Management (BAM). The statement sets out how important public administration research is and how, in particular within the Unit of Assessment C17, it forms a large part of the submissions.

3. QAA Subject Benchmark Statements

Alongside our position statement on the REF Post-2021 we also have developed a position statement on the QAA Subject Benchmark Statements. Again this was developed with colleagues from the relevant special interest groups from the PSA and BAM. This statement highlights the importance of public services to the economy and for employment. In order to ensure undergraduate students, particularly those graduating with management degrees, are equipped for employment in the mixed employment it is important that public services feature more widely in management degrees.

All these developments highlight how public management and administration is changing. How many people are attending the conference here for the first time? I can see many new faces. You also represent change and by working together, within our learned society, you can play a role in shaping the nature of our subject in the future. We also have two new members of the PAC executive – Dr Karin Bottom is our new Vice-Chair for Teaching and Learning and Dr Russ Glennon is our new Vice-Chair for Research. We are growing and we are changing.

This leads me on to our doctoral researchers. On Monday we held our Doctoral Conference. It was well attended and I was incredibly impressed by the quality of the papers presented. Across the board there were excellent presentations. This made it a very difficult task for both Karin and I in coming to a decision on the Richard Chapman Prize for best doctoral paper. We judged this on a number of criteria including the currency of the research, how it contributes to the field, the quality of the paper and how it fits with the overall conference theme. It was a difficult decision and in the end we have awarded the Richard Chapman Prize along with two additional Highly Commended awards.

Winner of the Richard Chapman Prize in 2019 is Dayo Eseonu from University of Manchester for her paper on “Co-production as social innovation: new wine or new skin for the inclusion of “hard-to-reach” groups in service delivery’.

We award ‘Highly Commended’ to Sean McCulloch from Northumbria University for his paper on ‘Facilitating change from within complex systems: the impact of individual change agents in the NHS’ and to Emma Reith from University of Birmingham for his paper on ‘Research at the margins: the trials and tribulations of stepping outside of one’s disciplinary norms’.

The quality of these papers, and all those presented at the doctoral conference, represent how bright our future is as a subject. We are the only UK Learned Society to represent public administration and social work and it we have a vital role to play in ensuring that our doctoral researchers, early career researchers and academics at all levels are supported. We have a strong position in doing this. We have two journals: Public Policy and Management and Teaching Public Administration, we have our annual conference, we have successfully nominated REF panel members to both the Politics and Business Management panels, we have nominated fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences, we have nominated fellows to the JUC, we also provide funding and other support to those within our member institutions.

I am delighted to confirm that the two funding competitions – for a research seminar series and for a small research grant – will be announced to all member institutions very soon. We also have an opening for treasurer of the JUC. So there are lots of ways to get involved – please contact me or either of my Vice-Chairs if you would like to find out more.

Thank you colleagues for all your participation over the last three days. I will now hand over to Alistair Jones, from De Montfort University, who will introduce you to the PAC Annual Conference 2020!

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Two weeks to go!

Since April I have been raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. They fund vital research into the nature, causes and treatments for dementia. This is a cause very close to my heart as my mum is living with Alzheimer’s.

The Running Down Dementia Challenge is organised every year by Alzheimer’s Research UK. It’s a great challenge that anyone can do. Last year I signed up and managed to complete 250km over the five months (April-August) which was quite an achievement for me as I hadn’t ran for years before. This year I decided that I would push myself by doubling my target distance.

It certainly hasn’t been easy and I’ve learned a lot along the way. With only two weeks to go until then end of the challenge I thought I would share some of the key lessons that I have picked up from this year’s challenge.

Seeking help early

Midway through my challenge I got very sore and stiff Achilles and found it hard even walking down stairs. It was much worse than the normal aches I could get after a long run and was worried that it could be the start of a much bigger problem. My GP recommended that I go to a physio – I’m very glad that I heeded their advice.

Breaking it down into smaller chunks

The key piece of advice that the physio gave me was to run shorter distances but more often. They also suggested I try to slow down and maybe even go back to run-walk-run. Previously I had been trying to cover the distance over a maximum of 3 runs per week. This wasn’t a good strategy. So I changed my approach and ran 4 or 5 times per week but over shorter distances.

Finding time

Time seems to be an increasingly rare commodity. Juggling family life, commuting and work plus running 4 to 5 times a week has been challenging. But I had to find new ways to fit in mid-week runs. Running to and from work has been a big help in getting my mileage up – and it’s had the added bonus of giving me more energy and helping me focus throughout the day.

Having support

Along the way I have had a few set-backs but have managed to stick to my plan. This would’ve been much harder without the support of family and friends. My weekly Sunday run with a group of friends has been a real motivator to keep going. But more than that I’ve been motivated by the importance of raising funds to help tackle this terrible disease. Every time someone has donated it has spurred me on to run a little more.

On a run near Kinloch Rannoch

Over the last year quite a lot has changed but running has been a constant part of my weekly routine. It has made me healthier, happier and much more resilient. With this year’s challenge nearly over I plan to keep going and am already looking forward to the challenge next year. In the meantime I’m delighted to have raised over £300 and ran over 460km.

There is still time to donate. Any amounts are greatly appreciated. You can see my full progress and donate here: https://runningdowndementia2019.everydayhero.com/uk/ian-1

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Public Administration and Social Work at the Margins – An International Conference

The Joint University Council for the Applied Social Sciences (JUC) is holding it’s annual conference at Northumbria University on 17-18 September 2019. The theme of the conference is ‘Public Administration and Social Work at the Margins’. Find out more here: www.northumbria.ac.uk/JUC2019

Key features of the conference include:

  • The Frank Stacey Address delivered by Rt Hon Baroness Grey-Thompson, Chancellor of Northumbria University, former Paralympian and Crossbench Peer
  • Academic keynote on ‘Integrative Leadership in Tumultuous Times: Claiming the Center’ delivered by Professor Barbara Crosby, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • ‘Meet the Editors’ Lunchtime Session with Professor John Diamond (Teaching Public Administration) and Professors Claire Dunlop and Edoardo Ongaro (Public Policy and Administration)
  • Exhibition stands by academic publishers of latest books/journals and other publications
  • A social programme including walking tour of the Ouse Burn on evening of 16 September and conference dinner on 17 September.

The idea for the conference theme came about through discussion on the state of the subject of public administration and public management (particularly in the UK context). The subject area has been subject to significant challenge in the last 20-30 years and, alongside the alignment of public administration with Business Schools, there has been a slow and steady decline in the teaching of public administration and public management. This has left some UK scholars feeling marginalised within their own institutions and, more generally, within UK Higher Education.

At the same time the UK, and specifically public administration within the UK, is at risk of becoming marginalised within Europe. Brexit looms large over all aspects of public policy and administration. It also poses significant challenges for UK business which consequently may then have an impact on economic growth and tax receipts. The uncertainty around Brexit and continued economic slump may lead to ongoing austerity for years to come – placing UK public administration at odds with the rest of Europe.

Finally, questions need to be asked about the content, delivery style and assessment of public administration programmes such as MPA’s. Do they adequately address issues of marginalisation? How can universities best support public service organisations to address inequality in the context of ongoing austerity? Whilst politics is in disarray our public servants must continue to deliver good public administration and social work to some of the most vulnerable in our society.  As such we want to encourage submissions of abstracts that explore issues of race, gender identity, sexuality, variability and class.

In addressing many of these challenges collaboration and collective leadership is required. At Northumbria University we are leading a public administration revival through our research activities, including the 3PM Research Interest Group, and teaching of public leadership, including the MSc Strategic Leadership for Public Services. This conference marks a great opportunity for scholars and practitioners to come to our campus in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to share the latest thinking on how our public services can work together to tackle inequality and challenge marginalisation. Find out more about the conference here: www.northumbria.ac.uk/JUC2019

Key dates:

  • Abstract submissions – Friday 31 May
  • Feedback on abstracts – by 30 June
  • Full papers due – 31 August
  • Conference walking tour – evening of 16 September
  • Conference start – morning of 17 September
  • Conference dinner – evening of 17 September
  • Conference finish – evening of 18 September

Submit your abstract now:
https://app.geckoform.com/public/?_ga=2.178698471.297039799.1557340916-551790689.1545312066#/modern/21FO0085pnoxur00ghisdbvlo9

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Dr Peter Falconer

This is a hard blog post to write – which is why it has taken so long.

I knew Peter Falconer as a teacher, doctoral supervisor, colleague, mentor and friend. It’s incredibly sad to know that he has passed away having only just recently retired. I am writing this as a lasting tribute to his legacy and our friendship.

I first knew of Peter as an academic in public administration at Glasgow Caledonian University in the late 1990’s. I was an undergraduate and although not studying public administration one of my friends was – and Peter had a reputation as being quite a demanding lecturer. I later came to the conclusion that this image was misguided (more on that to come).

After my undergraduate studies I took up a PhD. The topic was based on research by Peter (with Stephen Bailey, Malcolm Foley, Gayle McPherson and Margaret Graham) on museums charging as well as his work (with Stephen Bailey and Stuart McChlery) on local government charges. My resounding memories of Peter as one of my supervisors are his always insightful feedback, his approachable style and his mini-fridge full of Irn Bru!

Towards the end of my PhD Peter took up the post of Reader in Public Services Management at Queen Margaret University and he made the move East to Edinburgh with his wife Maureen. The relocation to a house close to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary proved grimly fortuitous as it was at this time that his health took a very serious turn for the worst with kidney failure which led to him requiring dialysis three times a week for the next few years.

In 2009 I took up a lectureship at QMU alongside Peter and other public administration scholars including Mike Donnelly, Eddie Frizzell and Richard Kerley. I know some who say that it can be difficult to work with someone who has previously been your teacher or supervisor. It’s a real credit to his character that I never felt that Peter saw me as anything other than a colleague and a peer. He was a great colleague and became a very good friend.

My recent memories of Peter are of his encyclopedic knowledge of public administration, his passion for higher education and his incredible ability to devour academic books. I never saw the tough taskmaster reputation played out in person. What I found in working with Peter was that he was utterly dedicated to education and fastidious in his teaching preparations. He always prioritised his teaching and his students – so much so that he would often schedule surgeries, treatment, and even his eventual retirement, around his teaching commitments.

One of my happiest memories of Peter is just a few years ago when he was nominated by his students for a teaching award. He was absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted. Peter took great pride in his teaching and he cared passionately about education. As a result he could be dismayed if he felt others didn’t hold the same standards and integrity. This was where he could be seen as being demanding. But behind this was the extent to which he cared and was more sensitive than his west Scotland character would ever publicly admit.

Having completed his teaching commitments earlier this year Peter was looking forward to a fruitful retirement. He was grateful for having been recognised as Emeritus Reader of Public Administration and Management, he had a new computer which he had just set up in his home office, and the last time we spoke (just a few days before his passing) he was doing a clear out of old books and looking forward to finally prioritising his writing. Sadly, he was never going to get the time.

I am so incredibly grateful to have known Peter, to have been supervised by him, to work alongside him but most of all to have gotten to know him as a friend. Peter, you are dearly missed.

Dr Peter Falconer, image provided by Mike Pretious.

A commemorative service in celebration of Peter’s life will take place at Mortonhall Crematorium on Tuesday 30 April 2019 at 1pm and afterwards at the Charwood Restaurant, Edinburgh.

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Public Administration Revival!

There has never been a better time to be involved in public administration! At the Newcastle Business School we are investing and growing our capacity in related teaching, learning and research. Public administration is back!

There have been many debates over the future of public administration (Boyne 1996, Chandler 1991, Chandler 2002, Jones 2012). In the past even I’ve asked if it would be possible to ‘Save Scottish Public Administration‘. But, as previously noted, a small number of universities across the UK have seen the decline of public administration elsewhere as an opportunity. That is certainly the case at Northumbria University.

At the same time as debates have continued around the future of the subject area, questions are increasingly being asked about the wider social and economic role of universities (see for example the impact of controversies over university governance). As part of this debate the civic role of universities, including universities as ‘anchor institutions‘ and their role in developing Local Industrial Strategies, is being considered (particularly post-Brexit). Surely supporting place based leadership and our public services through relevant education and research (which must include public policy and administration) must be a key part of this new role. Again Northumbria University is leading the way!

As part of this wider development we have recently validated a new MSc Strategic Leadership for Public Services. This is an exciting new programme for anyone who wants to make a difference through public service. It is designed to integrate world-leading research insights with your own professional experience to further enhance your leadership capabilities. The programme is aligned with the Senior Leader Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (SLMDA) Standard and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Level 7 Diploma in Management and Leadership. Therefore it is highly work-focused and will support the development of public services across the North-East region and beyond.

Modules* include:

  • Understanding Public Leadership
  • Public Service Finance and Accounting
  • Public Leadership and Strategic Change
  • The Future of Public Service Work
  • Evidence-Base Policy and Research Skills
  • Creating and Leading Digital Public Services
  • Management Investigation (dissertation)

*NB: These modules are subject to change – please check website for most current information.

Find out more here:

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/study-at-northumbria/courses/strategic-leadership-in-public-services-msc-senior-leader-degree-apprenticeship-dtpslp/

This new part-time Master’s degree builds on a long tradition of public administration at Northumbria University. Alongside this degree we also have a long-standing research seminar series run through the Public Policy and Public Management (3PM) Research Interest Group and a number of public administration research events every year, including this upcoming conference on The Future of Urban and Regional Development in the North and the UK to 2030.

With more developments to come this is a very exciting time to be part of Northumbria University. Get in touch with me to find out more!

References:

Boyne, G . (1996), ‘The Intellectual Crisis in in British Public Administration: Is Public Management the Problem or the Solution?’, Public Administration, 74, 4: 679–694
Chandler, J . (1991), ‘Public Administration: a Discipline in Decline’, Teaching Public Administration, 11, 2: 39–45
Chandler, J . (2002), ‘Deregulation and the Decline of Public Administration Teaching in the UK’, Public Administration, 80, 2: 375–390 
Elliott, I .C. (2018), ‘Marking the 100th anniversary of the UK Joint University Council and anticipating the next…’, Teaching Public Administration, 36, 1: 3–5
Jones, A . (2012), ‘Where Has All the Public Administration Gone?’, Teaching Public Administration, 30, 2: 124–132

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Brexit and Scottish Universities

I am currently conducting some research with Professor Margaret Arnott from University of West of Scotland on the potential impact of Brexit on Scottish universities. This is clearly a difficult topic to study at the moment as their remains so much uncertainty around what path the Brexit negotiations will take and subsequently when and how (and even if) the UK will eventually leave the European Union. The Scottish dimension adds an extra layer of complexity – this piece of research sets out some of these complexities in more detail.

Scotland, as a constituent nation of the UK, must follow UK policy on all reserved matters including decisions related to Brexit. But at the same time Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU. Within this debate education is of particular interest as the Scottish education system has always been distinct. With devolution this policy divergence has increased (Keating 2005, 2010) and led to the emergence of the so-called Scottish Approach to Public Services (Housden, 2014; Elliott, Forthcoming).

Source: BBC accessed at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-39317865

Policy divergence is exemplified with the funding of higher education for whilst undergraduate tuition fees were introduced in the UK in 1998, they were soon abolished in Scotland by the Scottish Government who have remained resolutely opposed to tuition fees. This policy has become immortalised in the “Salmond Rock” which sits in the grounds of Heriot-Watt University which is inscribed with his statement that “the rocks will melt with the sun before I allow fees to be imposed on Scotland’s students”.

Source: Flickr (Licensed under Creative Commons)

Although the free higher education policy is seen to be a way to extend educational opportunities it has been found that maintenance grants have declined since this policy was introduced (Hunter- Blackburn 2016) and that students from less affluent backgrounds have suffered as a result. Furthermore the approach to funding of Scottish universities, and the decline in international students following UK Government changes to immigration rules, have contributed to an increasingly difficult financial environment. In 2016/17, 9 of Scotland’s 19 universities reported a financial deficit (compared to just one in eight in England) (HESA 2018).

In relation to Europe, the potential impact of Brexit on Scottish universities may be far greater than on universities in the rest of the UK. Scottish universities have benefited €558m from the Horizon 2020 programme and €64m from the Erasmus programme (Universities Scotland 2018). In total European funding sources account for 9.4% of all research funding in Scottish universities (£94m) in 2014-15 (ibid 2018). Also, Scottish universities have proportionally more EU staff (11% of all staff, 17% academic staff and 25% of research staff) and students (9%) than the rest of the UK (ibid 2018).

The Scottish university sector faces many financial challenges. Despite education being a devolved policy there are many related issues, such as immigration policy and foreign policy, that remain reserved. Thus, the financial sustainability of universities has become precarious both as a result of Brexit but also the UK Home Office ‘hostile environment’ policies. It is unclear how Scottish universities will cope with the potential effects of Brexit but whatever happens this issue has raised significant issues in relation to the devolution settlement.

This will be discussed at the following conference: https://www.regionalstudies.org/opportunities/call-for-papers-the-impact-of-brexit-on-regions-in-europe-essca-angers-france/

References:

Arnott, M.A. (2017) “Jigsaw Puzzle” of education policy?: nation, state and globalised policy making, Scottish Educational Review, 49 (2): 3-14. Available online here.

Elliott, I.C. (Forthcoming) The Implementation of a Strategic State in a Small Country Setting: the case of the ‘Scottish Approach’, Public Money and Management.

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

Hunter Blackburn, L. (2016) Equity in student finance: Cross-UK comparisons, Special Edition: Widening Access to Higher Education in Scotland, Scottish Educational Review, 48(1): 30-47. Available online here.

Keating, M. (2005) Policy convergence and divergence in Scotland under devolution, Regional studies, 39 (4): 453-463. Available online here.

Keating, M. (2010) The Government of Scotland: Public Policy Making after Devolution, 2nd Edition, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Purchase here.

Universities Scotland (2018) Universities Scotland’s Brexit Priorities, accessed online at: https://www.universities-scotland.ac.uk/publications/brexit-priorities/

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3PM Research Seminar Series 2019

The Public Policy and Public Management (3PM) Research Interest Group at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, are hosting a research seminar series over this coming academic semester. The seminars will bring some of the top scholars of public policy and administration to Newcastle to discuss their latest research.

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

23 January 2019: Street-Level Bureaucrats and Conflicts – interpersonal vs intergroup. Mike Rowe (University of Liverpool); Lorelei Jones (University of Bangor); Sarah Alden (Sheffield University); and Xiaojain Wu (Northumbria University). Click here to book.

27 February 2019: Localism. Martin Quinn (Leicester Management School) and Karin Bottom (INLOGOV). Click here to book.

5 March 2019: Street-Level Bureaucracy and Control – institutional vis-à-vis individual. Brita Bjørkelo (Norwegian College of Policing) & Hege Høivik Bye (University of Bergen); Angela Mazzetti (Northumbria University); Jack Howard & Barbara Wech (University of Alabama Birmingham); Erin Borry (University of Alabama Birmingham); and Shuo Wang (Northumbria University). Click here to book.

17 April 2019: Employability and Welfare. Steve Bevan (Institute of Employment Studies) and Colin Lindsay (University of Strathclyde). Click here to book.

22 May 2019: Place Leadership. John Gibney, University of Birmingham; Adina Dudau, University of Glasgow; and Alyson Nicholds, Staffordshire University. Click here to book.

The 3PM Research Seminar Series is supported by the JUC Public Administration Committee (PAC) and Newcastle Business School. All research seminars in this series are free to the public and will be of interest to anyone motivated by public service.

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 Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, City Campus East, Falconar Street, Newcastle. Information on how to get to our campus is available here: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/travel-parking/travelling-to-the-university/

For more information on funding opportunities from the JUC Public Administration Committee see here.

NB: Tea and coffee will be provided.

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Strategic Leadership for Public Services – The Impact and Legacy of the Strategic State in Scotland

I have a PhD bursary available on this topic. The research will commence in October 2019 and is funded for three years. Do get in touch if you would like more information.

There is growing interest in ideas of Public Leadership (Dickinson et al. 2018; Brookes and Grint 2010; t’Hart 2014) and the Strategic State (OECD 2010, 2012, 2013). Yet there remains a lack of clarity around what constitutes effective leadership, where it is applied and how best it is supported. Crucially, there remains uncertainty around the place of values in a public service context and how leadership can or should hold an ethical stance. Similarly, the devolution of greater powers to regions and localities has sparked interest in place-based leadership (Beer et al, 2018; Hambleton and Howard, 2013; Hambleton 2011).

Where do values come from? How do these values then intersect with the context of different localities? Do public service values differ from other sectors? And how are these reconciled when working in collaboration across different organisations in different sectors. This research will explore the role of strategy and leadership within a public service context. Traditional theories of leadership have highlighted how, for example, situational factors can influence leadership (Blanchard and Hersey). But the role of localities, particularly in relation to public leadership, remains under researched. This doctoral study will draw on the experience of leaders from different localities and contexts to explore how public leadership is influenced by these environmental factors.

The project will use a qualitative approach to explore issues around the role of leadership and localities. Participants will be selected using both purposive and snowball sampling to ensure that a wide range of leaders are included in the study. The outcome will include a comprehensive model of location-based leadership which will fully recognise the local environmental factors that must be taken into account when considering the development and support of future public leaders.

Find out more, including how to apply, here:  https://www.findaphd.com/phds/project/strategic-leadership-for-public-services-the-impact-and-legacy-of-the-strategic-state-in-scotland-advert-reference-rdf19-bl-lhrm-elliott/?p104169 

 

References

Beer, A., Ayres, S., Clower, T., Faller, F., Sancino, A., & Sotarauta, M. 2018. “Place leadership and regional economic development: a framework for cross-regional analysis”. Regional Studies, April, 1-12.

Brookes, S. and Grint, K. 2010. A New Public Leadership Challenge? London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dickinson, H., Needham, C., Mangan, C. and Sullivan, H. (eds). 2018. Reimagining the Future Public Service Workforce, Singapore: Springer.

Hambleton, R. and Howard, J. 2013. “Place-based leadership and public service innovation.” Local Government Studies, 39(1): 47-70.

Hambleton, R. 2011. “Place-based leadership in a global era”Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, May–November.

Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. H. 1969. Management of Organizational Behavior – Utilizing Human Resources. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

OECD 2010. “Finland: Working together to Sustain Success”, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, doi: 10.1787/9789264086081-en.

OECD 2012. “Slovenia: Towards a Strategic and Efficient State”, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264173262-en.

OECD 2013. “Poland: Implementing Strategic-State Capability, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264201811-en.

‘t Hart, P. 2014Understanding Public LeadershipLondon: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Additional readings

About Me

How to prepare for your viva (PhD / DBA / DProf)

The Scottish Approach to Public Services

The Sustainability of the Scottish Approach to Policy-Making

Why do a PhD?

 

 

 

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Community Empowerment needs Community Investment

Localism and community empowerment have become very popular ideas across the UK, and indeed internationally, when thinking about how to design and deliver public services. However, the localism agenda has been tackled very differently in Scotland compared to the Rest of UK (RUK). In particular it’s important to note that the community empowerment agenda in Scotland maintains a commitment to tackling inequalities – which the RUK agenda does not.

This agenda in Scotland is founded upon the assertion that,

Scotland’s communities are a rich source of talent and creative potential and the process of community empowerment helps to unlock that potential. It stimulates and harnesses the energy of local people to come up with creative and successful solutions to local challenges. (Scottish Government, 2009, p. 6)

In this underpinning logic, in the commitment to tackling inequalities, and in many other respects this seems to be a laudable policy as discussed elsewhere (see Lawson and Kearns, 2010).

What hadn’t, until now, been explored in any great depth is the extent to which local communities are aware, prepared and willing to engage in the opportunities that might arise through the community empowerment agenda. This research draws on 61 semi-structured interviews with MSPs, MPs, local and community councillors, Audit Scotland officers, public service managers and local residents and activists in a single ward in East Scotland. The findings uncovered three factors that must be in place for community empowerment to be effective: 1) shared strategy; 2) shared resources; and 3) shared accountability.

1. Shared strategy

There was a sense within the community that they had been largely forgotten. It was strongly felt that local residents could not influence decision-making and, even if they could, it wouldn’t make any difference. Even elected politicians recognised that there was little by way of social progress and that any investment that was going into communities was largely maintaining the status quo rather than leading to any positive change.

As such community empowerment might help alleviate some of these problems by devolving more decision-making and enhancing collaboration between communities, community group, local government officials and elected politicians. But this also requires certain skills and expertise in order to be effective. Thus a shared strategy is not enough – shared resources and shared accountability are also required.

2. Shared resources

Many participants highlighted how the current system was one based on disempowerment and that resources were centralised and that there were major disparities between the resources of local councils and community groups. Whilst the community empowerment agenda does include opportunities for communities to take ownership of more resources there was also a fear from participants that this move to greater sharing of resources had only come about as the council were attempting to make significant service cuts and therefore this was motivated by offloading costs to communities rather than truly from a sense of empowerment.

3. Shared accountability

Much of the discussion highlighted a long-standing cynicism and mistrust of the local council by residents, activists and public service managers. It is notable that Scotland has one of the highest levels of centralised power in Europe (32 municipalities compared to 434, 98 and 342 in countries of a similar size – Norway, Denmark and Finland). Thus many participants expressed a significant lack of enthusiasm for community empowerment and indeed there was a questioning of the idea of ‘community’ at all. Largely, those from affluent parts of the community had little appetite for community empowerment as the system was seen to work well for them already, whilst those in less affluent parts of the community had little appetite for community empowerment due to a lack of trust.

Overall the research highlighted a wide range of problems within the current system: around the lack of representation; the lack of engagement with communities; the unequal distribution of resources; and a widespread lack of enthusiasm for greater community empowerment. The Community Empowerment agenda in Scotland represents a positive move towards tackling some of these long-standing problems within the current system. Yet without systemic investment in a shared strategy, shared resources and shared accountability mechanisms the potential of this agenda is not likely to be seen.

 

This research was conducted with Violetta Fejszes and Mariola Tàrrega and has now been published in the International Journal of Public Services Management. The article can be downloaded for FREE up to 50 times via this link: https://www.emeraldinsight.com/eprint/YIXHQUNF6XVXCPNRVQXI/full

When free downloads are no longer available it will also be available here:  https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/IJPSM-03-2018-0080 

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JUC Centenary Event – Opening Address 18 October 2018

Good morning everyone and thank you for coming to the JUC Centenary Event. I am Ian Elliott and I’m Vice-Chair of the JUC. I am standing in today for Sam Baron, our Chair, who unfortunately couldn’t make it.

The first meeting of the JUC was in London 100 years ago. To mark this milestone we wanted to come back to London to consider the role of the JUC for the next 100 years.
The day has three key purposes.

Firstly, we wanted to recognise the achievements of the JUC over the last 100 years. Many great figures have been associated with the JUC and it is important to acknowledge their legacy and how much has been achieved since 1918. So we have Professor Viv Cree who is going to talk us through some of the history of the JUC based on her own research. I would also recommend that you read the excellent history of the JUC by Professor Richard Chapman which is published in our own academic journal – Public Policy and Administration.

But we can’t allow our future to be dictated by past events. We wanted this event to bring people together with a common interest in public services encompassing public administration and social work. We all are here because we believe that the JUC is a valuable learned society and that the study of public administration and social work are essential to improving our communities. It’s important to consider why we are here and the current state of public administration and social work.

My motivation comes from my parents. Particularly my mum. I few up in a rural sub-post office in Northern Ireland. My mum worked from 8am in the morning until 7 or even 8pm at night serving the local community. Often there would be a line of people queuing up outside in the morning waiting to get their giros or to post some letters. It wasn’t a particularly well paid job and even when held up at gunpoint by a masked gang the Post Office wouldn’t pay for extra security – it had to come out of the household budget. After 40 years of service my mum was forced to retire due to the onset of Alzheimer’s. The modest savings that she had built up over those 40 years, along with her pension, all went to pay for her full time care. The rural post office, like so many public services in our most isolated communities, remains shut. This is a story that sadly has been replicated right across the UK. Should we not be aiming for better than this?

I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can, with colleagues, help to inform change in the way our public services are designed and delivered in order to hopefully develop a more caring and compassionate society. We know how much public administration and social work matters. Many of you will have similar storied to tell and similar motivations for being here – let’s not forget that. And let’s not forget that regardless of our background, our research interests or our teaching areas, we have much more in common than divides us.

So the second part of today is for you. It has been specifically arranged as an (un)conference so that we, the JUC officers can shut up and listen. We need to listen to what you have to say, to your priorities and to your ambitions for our learned society. You can tell us your story. What matters to you? And what should the JUC be doing in response? We need your galvanising issues or questions to inform what we will then discuss in the breakout groups. You’ll all have had advance warning so hopefully some of you have some ideas already. If you don’t yet have a key galvanising issue that you would like to raise then have a think just now. But this isn’t an opportunity to whine or moan or to create a TO DO list for someone else – we need people to do things. Get involved! Help us to influence positive change. So I would add to this second key purpose of today – how can you help us to achieve a renewed purpose over the next 100 years?

That then will finally lead into the last part of today, to turn to the future. By the end of the day we will have a set of ideas, or instructions to take forward to our executive meeting in November and then to the AGM in January. The next 100 years starts here – you are all part of it. Please do get involved, discuss your ideas and most of all please enjoy the day! Thank you.

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