UCL Uncovering Politics

Freeing Bureaucrats to Succeed

Episode Summary

This week we are looking at how to deliver effective public services. And also: How can academic research make a difference?

Episode Notes

How can you best deliver effective public services? Is it better to exert top-down control over the work of bureaucrats on the ground – through targets, monitoring, and prescribed procedures – so that slacking or corruption or inconsistency can be prevented? Or can more be achieved if you free up bureaucrats to work out their own approaches, utilizing their practical knowledge and allowing their desire to do a good job to flourish?

Our colleague Dr Dan Honig, who is Associate Professor of Public Policy here in the UCL Department of Political Science, argues that we have tended to get the balance wrong, with too much top-down control and not enough freedom on the ground. In two books – one of them published in 2018 by Oxford University Press and the other on its way – Dan sets out the case for a new approach.

And his work is making waves not just in academia. At the end of 2021 he was announced by Apolitical as one of its hundred most influential academics in government in the world. 

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