Tag Archives: public administration

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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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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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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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

 

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