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Northumbria announces partnership with Centre for Public Impact

3rd March 2020



Northumbria University, Newcastle, and the Centre for Public Impact (CPI), have announced a partnership aimed at supporting efforts to help governments become more effective and trusted.

Academics from Northumbria’s Newcastle Business School and senior researchers from CPI will work together on a range of high impact projects. Research led and developed by CPI on “shared power” between governments, professionals and citizens, and leading research by Northumbria into public management and governance will be among particular areas for collaboration. The University’s “Human Learning Systems” approach to public management is also seen as an important area of focus.

CPI believes that governments across the world became too focused on performance management and less on human centred policy making and delivery. CPI has developed a number of tools to help public policy makers to centre citizens and professional practitioners in policy development processes.

Adrian Brown, Executive Director of CPI said: “CPI is delighted to work with one of the leading thinkers on complexity in government and how governments can deliver better policies and services. Combining our research will bring new insights into how we can help governments deliver better outcomes for citizens.”

Dr Toby Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Public Management and Leadership at Newcastle Business School, and a former Chief Executive of a charity in the North East, will lead on the work for Northumbria. Commenting on the partnership, he said: “The CPI is a global think tank with significant influence. By re-thinking the way government works they are helping to create a radical shift of power away from central government and into the hands of people at a far more local level. We are delighted they have partnered with us - it’s an opportunity for our Human Learning Systems and Shared Power research to have real impact, and for us to expand our work in this field.”

A key area of Dr Lowe’s research focuses on how public service can better serve the needs of people In particular, it identifies that to respond effectively to complex societal problems – homelessness for example – funders, commissioners and those on the ground need to adopt a “Human, Learning, Systems” approach” which devolves decision-making into the work, and encourages managers to focus on creating trust and learning environments as the way to achieve improvements.

Dr Lowe added: “This means that policy makers recognise and respond to human variety with bespoke support, that they build empathy between people, recognise the strengths of others and seek to trust and be trusted. Learning through both quantitative and qualitative data should also be used to improve performance and create learning cultures. Policy makers should fund and commission for learning, not for the delivery of specified services or just to hit targets.”

Funded by the internationally-renowned Boston Consulting Group, the CPI is an independent not-for-profit organisation established to shape thinking about the future of government – and ultimately to bring about positive change.  It works with governments, public servants and other policymakers.

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