Collaboration fascinates me. How people and organisations try to work together to achieve public purpose and their persistence despite repeated setbacks is a constant source of empirical and theoretical interest. I have published widely on this issue, usually in collaboration with others including Helen Dickinson and Paul Williams. My major work on collaboration is sole-authored, and proposes a new framework for understanding what happens when human actors collaborate. It will be published in September 2022.
The role of ‘publics’ in democratic governance is an ongoing pre-occupation. I am concerned with the potential and limits of ‘the responsive democratic state’, the construction of ‘publics’ in time and space, and the workings of power in democratic relations. My formative work in this area was published with colleagues Marian Barnes and Janet Newman. I am about to commence a new project led by another colleague Sara Bice exploring social risk in infrastructure projects, that will take my work on publics in a new direction.
What happens in ‘the local’ or more specifically ‘the urban’ is an enduring interest of mine. I began my professional and then my academic life in ‘the urban local’ and remain convinced that we overlook localities at our peril. My most recent work in this area was a cross-national project on the impact of austerity on urban governance led by Jonathan Davies. It was one of the most diverse and stimulating research teams I have ever worked with, including my long-standing colleague Steven Griggs as well as one of my newest research collaborators, Hayley Henderson.
I am a qualitative researcher with a particular interest in the application of interpretivist approaches to public policy and public service reform. My work here focuses on encouraging practitioners to see the development and application of policy and the implementation and impact of reform in new ways, and to help them appreciate the potential and limits of a ‘what works’ approach to policy and reform. It has also contributed to resources for students on how to apply interpretivist methods to public policy.