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Professor James Downe

Professor James Downe

Professor in Public Policy and Management, Director of Research, Wales Centre for Public Policy

Cardiff Business School

+44 (0)29 2087 5298
12 Museum Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3BG
Media commentator

James is a Professor in Public Policy & Management in Cardiff Business School. He is currently on secondment as Director of Research at the Wales Centre for Public Policy. The Centre supports government and public services to access, interpret and apply evidence that improves policy making and delivery. His current research interests are in local government performance regimes, political accountability, sector-led improvement, public trust and the ethical behaviour of local politicians.

He has more than fifteen years' experience of conducting evaluations on local government policy for government and has published widely in journals including: Public Administration Review, Public Administration, Policy & Politics, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Public Management Review and International Review of Administrative Sciences.


  • PhD, University of Plymouth
  • Pg. Dip Social Science Research Methods University of Plymouth
  • BSc Politics University of Plymouth

Academic positions

  • Professor, Cardiff Business School, 2017-
  • Reader, Cardiff Business School, 2013-2017
  • Senior Research Fellow, Cardiff Business School, 2008-2013
  • Senior Research Associate, Cardiff Business School, 2003-2008
  • Senior Research Fellow, Warwick Business School, 2000-2003
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Politics, University of Plymouth, 1997-2000
  • Research Assistant, Department of Politics, University of Plymouth, 1995-1996





















Current research

Transforming into Open, Innovative and Collaborative Governments, 2017-2021, European Commission Horizon 2020

Management Innovation in Local Government: An examination of shared senior management teams in English local government, 2016-2018, Cardiff Business School

Recently completed research

Evaluating the LGA Corporate Peer Challenge Programme, 2016-17, Local Government Association

Outcome Evaluation of the Local Service Board ESF Development and Priority Delivery Project, 2012-2015, Welsh Government

Process Evaluation of the Local Service Board ESF Development and Priority Delivery Project, 2012-2015, Welsh Government

Evaluation of Welsh Government funding streams to support regional collaborative working, 2014-2015, Welsh Government

The Regulation and Performance of Public Services, 2013-2015, Cardiff Business School

An Evaluation of Executive Arrangements in Local Government, 2014, Welsh Government

Identification of Best Practice in Joint Scrutiny arrangements across Wales, and the production of a Practitioners Toolkit, 2013-14, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and Monmouthshire County Council – supported by Welsh Government

Evaluation of the Fire Peer Challenge, 2013-2014, Local Government Association

Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future, 2011-14, European Commission Framework 7 programme,

Developing a Culture of Collaborative Scrutiny: an Evaluation of Practice and Potential, 2012-2013, Welsh Government

Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Corporate Peer Challenge Process, 2011-2013, Local Government Association

Accountability, Efficiency, Improvement and Change in UK Local Public Services: The Role of Benchmarking and External Performance Assessment, 2012-2013, Economic and Social Research Council

Evaluation of the Scrutiny Development Fund in Wales, 2011-2012, Welsh Government

Evaluation of Welsh Government Policy for Local Government, 2008-2012, Welsh Assembly Government

PhD supervision research interests

  • Citizen engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Ethical behaviour of politicians
  • Inspection of local government
  • Political leadership
  • Political management arrangements
  • Social cohesion in the EU