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Public Policy and Management

Public Policy and Management is a research hub for academics, doctoral researchers and professionals with an interest in public services including education, health and social care, policing, fire and rescue and housing

The Public Policy and Management (PPM) research cluster brings together the work of 34 academics, Visiting Professors and Fellows and Associates, together with a large group of PhD/DBAs. This Research Cluster now has the largest complement of public policy and management scholars in the UK and members hold significant national and international roles on key learned societies, research networks and other public policy forums for teaching and research.

Northumbria University has a long-standing reputation for excellence in public administration including strategic leadership for public services. Our academic and research staff have published extensively in top academic journals and collaborate widely with regional, national and international public service organisations. Research includes public sector leadership and reform, partnerships and networks, comparison of different governance arrangements, performance based and relational contracting, a systems approach to complex questions, the effectiveness of regional networks and digital connectivity between public bodies and clients.

Since 2018 this Group has incorporated the inter-disciplinary operations research of the Living Laboratory. The Lab is part of a wider European network (ENOLL) and represents a creative approach to addressing complex problems for businesses and communities through collaboration and partnership building. This group has particular interest in exploring design principles, organisational performance, leadership and decision-making as they apply to public services.

Both Liddle and Shutt have international profiles for their work on public service reform and city and regional development, and critical mass and external standing has been achieved through strategic recruitment of new colleagues with specialisms coalescing around the public sector (in particular the NHS, Local and regional policy development, Leadership, Partnerships and Entrepreneurship, Liddle, Johnston, Shutt) and its overall policy direction and management. Other colleagues are researching telecommunications policy and regulation (Whalley), the NHS and Local government (Blenkinsopp and Hesselgreaves), Public Leadership, Partnerships and Entrepreneurship (Liddle, Shutt, Johnston), Public Administration and Strategic Management (Elliott), Public Policy and Regional Development (Liddle, Cabras, Shutt) , Complex Public Commissioning (Lowe, French, Hawkins, Martin, Jamieson), Mutuality and the Third and Public Sectors (Myers), Strategy (Bowden) , Ageing (Egdell), Refugees and Asylums seekers and Migration and the labour market (Fitzgerald), Higher Education futures (Jones), Sustainability (Hope), Policing and Vulnerability (X Jian Wu). Recent appointments Mackenzie, Wagner, Corduneanu and Yeoman have added to research capacity on work/organisations and motivations, climate policy and networks, and transformation of Meaningful Cities.

Impact with local organisations, contract research, and partnership working are the foundations of how this cluster works. PPM colleagues work across the University and other Faculties with colleagues from the School of Nursing, the Built Environment and Property, Geography, and Social Sciences, as well as with the AUAS Campus, Amsterdam and other UK and international HEI partnerships. Members of this cluster are also members of INcITE and Responsible Business Research Clusters

The public sector is hugely important for the North East and the North, so it is imperative to position the region more effectively internationally, nationally and within the Northern Powerhouse in the coming decade. There is a widespread need for increased research and development on the public sector, and on new public policies over the long term. Local government has been at the sharp end of austerity cuts and faces a bleak round of increased restructuring, as well as further staff and service reductions. Beyond the difficulties of the next two years researchers are developing a new more comprehensive 2030 agenda for the region to deal with local government devolution and changes to the eco-system of public governance and services. There is an expanded remit to respond to the needs of a broader range of public, private, voluntary sector and social enterprises within a changing public governance framework. A higher quality evidence-based research and co-operative working with all sectoral agencies is at the heart of our approach, together with a focus on the need for a new public sector entrepreneurialism to motivate city and regional development thereby attempting to overcome the continuing North- South divide. It is also vital that Big Data, GIS and evidence-based evaluations are at the heart of policy development and appraisals, as new opportunities are created by the Smart Cities, Big Data and 5G initiatives.

Currently colleagues are working on issues affecting Mayoral CAs, central funding regimes & impacts of Brexit on the NE, and experimentation with systems working, regulation, public leadership, public policy and regional development, sustainable work futures, sustainability, and policing and multi-agency approaches to vulnerability.


Our links and networks

Researchers are embedded in international, national and regional academic, policy and practice networks, think tanks and professional associations, and have strong links to the Local Government Association, Local Government Information Unit, Chartered Institute of Public Finance, Association of PS Excellence, Centre for Local Economic Strategies, Institute for Economic Development, and many other local government and public management/governance connections. We are also part of wider research networks, as colleagues have worked together on directly funded Institute for LG Projects (University of Durham), related projects through FUSE, Public Health Networks, NERIN, Crime Partnerships, HAs, Social enterprises, LG, CAs, LEPs etc. Through its existing work with academic networks like the national JUC/PAC (Joint University Council/Public Administration Committee) and the RSA (Regional Studies Association), LARIA (Local Authority Research Network), Northumbria is reaching forward to bring fresh innovation and ideas into the public sector.

The University also hosts an active Police Research and Education Network, aimed at informing policy and practice in numerous areas, include policing leadership and organization. Public Policy and Management researchers are active members of this network and can draw on additional expertise from it. Additionally, the Coach Lane campus houses Blue Light and Emergency Service training course and research facilities dealing with combined police, fire and rescue and ambulance services.


Areas of Specialism

Public Sector Leadership, Partnership and Entrepreneurship

Regional Development and Public Policy

Complex Commissioning and Contracting

The Living Lab

3PM (Public Policy and Management) Research Interest Group



Research Staff:

Professor Joyce Liddle;

Professor John Shutt;

Prof Ron Beadle;

Prof John Blenkinsopp;

Dr Alistair Bowden;

Dr Kristina Brown;

Prof Ignazio Cabras;

Dr Roxana Corduneanu;

Prof Patrick Dawson;

Dr Valerie Egdell;

Dr Ian Elliott;

Dr Lesley-Ann Gunton;

Prof Emeritus John Fenwick;

Dr Ian Fitzgerald;

Dr Max French;

Dr Deborah Harrison;

Dr Melissa Hawkins;

Dr Hannah Hesselgreaves;

Dr Alex Hope;

Professor Kerry Howell

Dr Merrel Knox;

Prof David Jones;

Dr Lorraine Johnston;

Dr Toby Lowe;

Dr Ewan Mackenzie;

Dr Greg Maniatopoulos;

Prof Mike Martin;

Dr Jan Myers;

Dr David Stoten;

Dr Emma-Jayne Thirkell;

Dr Paul Wagner;

Prof Jason Whalley;

Prof Rob Wilson;

Dr X Jian Wu;

Dr Ruth Yeoman;


Associate Members:

Dr John Clayton (Geography);

Prof Tracy Finch (HLS);

Dr Sarah Lonbay (Social Work & Communities);

Dr David McGuinness;

Dr Kevin Muldoon-Smith (Architecture and Built Environment);

Prof Pauline Pearson (Nursing);

Prof Mike Rowe (Criminology);

Prof Keith Shaw (Politics);

Prof Tony Webster (History)

External Members:

Dr Gareth Addidle, (Policing) University of Teesside;

Prof Huw Davies (St Andrews);

Professor Pam Dunning (Troy University, USA);

Dr Christine Esposito, University of South Wales;

Professor Richard Kerley (Emeritus, QMU, Edinburgh);

Prof Russell Mannion (Birmingham);

Professor John Mawson (University of Durham);

Professsor Gerard McElwee (University of Huddersfield);

Dr Ross Millar (Birmingham);

Dr Alyson Nicholds, Associate Professor-Staffordshire University;

Dr Fabien Pecot (University of York);

Prof Martin Powell (Birmingham);

Professor Malcolm Prowle (University of Gloucester);

Professors Willem Winden, Lori Divito, Ingrid Wakkee (Amsterdam);

Professor Morris Zombo (University of Angola)

Visiting Fellows:

Professor Alex Murdock, Emeritus Professor LSBU, London

Professor Hiroko Kudo, Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan

Dr John Gibney, University of Birmingham

Professor John Diamond, Emeritus Professor, Edge Hill University

Visiting Professor- Professor Marco Meneguzzo (Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy)


Recent and on-going projects

1. UKRI (Shutt and Liddle), to conduct data collection across different social and economic areas of the North East to develop the evidence base on social and economic indicators. (£89,000). Completed March 2020.

2. Cleveland Fire Brigade (Wilson (PI), Bader, Egdell, Harrison, Hussein). This research explored and measured key issues related to workforce culture. Workforce issues and strengths, from the perspective of staff across all levels and parts of Cleveland Fire Brigade, were identified and explored. A bespoke survey tool was developed to be used as baseline for future staff surveys. Recommendations and a co-produced evidence-based employer action plan to influence workforce culture within the Brigade were developed. (£39,998). Completed January 2020.

3. Gateshead Council (Wilson, Harrison, Brown, Ciesielska, Hesselgreaves). Evaluation of Gateshead Council’s ‘Making Every Contact Count’ (MECC) Programme. This was a mixed-methods evaluation of voluntary and community sector (VCS) implementation of a public health behaviour change programme in England. (£37,000). Completed August 2019.

4. Tudor Trust (Hesselgreaves, Lowe, Hawkins, Wilson). The grant is to fund action research into the new approach to public management that we have developed – called the Human Learning Systems (HLS) approach. It particularly explores alternative approaches to the funding, commissioning and performance management of social interventions/public service (£150,000). Will be complete 2022.

5. Lankelly Chase Foundation (Hesselgreaves, Lowe, French, Wilson). Place-Based System Change Learning Partnership which aims to support changing the systems that perpetuate severe and multiple disadvantage. Northumbria’s role is helping places around the UK to develop as learning systems (£266,117 + £198,906). Will be complete 2022.


Research Seminar Series 

23 January 2019: Street-Level Bureaucrats and Conflicts - interpersonal vs intergroup;

27 February 2019: Localism; 5 March 2019: Street-Level Bureaucracy and Control - institutional vis-à-vis individual;

17 April 2019: Employability and Welfare; 22 May 2019: Place Leadership;

10 October 2019: The Future of Local Government and Public Sector Services and the Role of the Local Authority Lawyer;

17 October 2019: Strategic Leadership in Higher Education Institutions: What's New in Academic Research?

18 April 2018: ‘Defining The Space for a Teaching Public Administration Journal’

16 February 2016 “Unedited Conversations: Towards a Northern Powerhouse?

18 June 2015 ‘Public Sector Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation’

12 February 2015 “Borderlands”,

12 September 2013 “Transformation Process of the Czech Republic: Impacts and Future Challenges for The Regional Development”

12 October 2013 “From quadruple to “new helix”: Strengthening HEI-SME knowledge interaction after the retreat of the (English) State”


Education and professional development

An MSc Strategic Leadership for Public Services recruited its first cohort of students in September 2019, and the programme is designed to support the development of senior leaders. The MSc in Strategic Leadership for Public Services capitalizes on our growing faculty with experience in translating research and practice expertise into improvements for the public and third sectors. There is also a long history of working in partnership with public and voluntary service organisations and is well regarded as a provider of Degree Apprenticeships, specific bespoke high-quality healthcare programmes, and research. ADSS (Arts, Design and Social Sciences) is leading on a cross- Faculty Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship scheme for teaching 200 officers per annum across Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Forces (commencing March 2019). Furthermore, the Northern Women in Leadership 2019 programme and conference involved many senior public sector managers, as the existing and successful MBA Programme continues to do so.

All CPD (Continuous Professional Development) programmes are evidence-based and research rich, thus informed by the latest legislation, standards and also industry requirements, ensuring relevance. Clients include Northumbrian Water, Gateshead City Council, Northumberland County Council, Nexus Transport, NHS North of Tyne, South of Tyne, Durham and Darlington, North East Probation Service and Northumbria Police. We also run a flagship programme for the NHS, in partnership with Mersey Care, on Restorative Just Culture (Brown), which is now in demand internationally.

The Faculty of Business and Law is engaged in several international partnerships with overseas governments, both local and central and have long established knowledge exchange partnerships with numerous Universities across the globe.

PhD students and topics

Cat Hudson

Chaima Moujahed - Researching the impact of cultures on whistleblowing. 

Dan Cheng - Researching the determinants of perceived quality of life among older tourists

Darren Redgwell - Researching moral agency during expeditionary counterinsurgency operations from a virtue ethics perspective

Grace Gao - My research emerges from a fascination with the agency and empowerment of women based on gender and other forms of difference.

Lar Eniola - Researching major career changes in later life. 

Mark Gatto - Researching the social justice issue of gender imbalance (the motherhood penalty and patriarchal bonus) in parenting experiences in the workplace. 

Michelle Booth - RDF PhD Scholar - Inclusive entrepreneurship: Building a thriving social economy in the North-East. This funded doctoral research project responds to calls to focus on cross-cutting solutions to tackle big issues as part of the region’s social and economic rejuvenation. 

Nathan Pellow - Researching  local and regional economic development. 

Nermin Hamza - Researching the relationship between organisational compassion and well-being at UK universities.

Rajeev Vazhappully - Researching  visual meaning making in CSR communication.

Robert Bickerstaffe - Community development, local and central government Strategy in Scotland

Sally Wightman - Researching the role of tradition in the conceptualisation of meaningful work in the third sector.

Sarah Davie - Researching leadership in Higher Education.

Stephanie Preston - Researching  employee wellbeing and how this is experienced in the service sector, mainly the aviation industry.

Sean McCulloch

Brian Morgan

Alistair Bulloch

Previous PhD/DBA studentS and topics

Gary Wilkin (Culture and Regeneration in the NE)

Nick Gray (Place-based economic development in Newcastle and Leeds);

Rebecca Prescott (The role of artists in urban regeneration in Newcastle);

Richard McGowan (Graduate retention and regional development in the North East).

Nico Binsfeld (ICT ecosystem in Luxembourg),

Paolo Gerli (Telecommunications infrastructure on the margins)

David Spoors (Broadband adoption at YHN)


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