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Professor Steve Martin

Professor Steve Martin

Director, Wales Centre for Public Policy

Cardiff Business School

Steve Martin is the Director of the Wales Centre for Public Policy and Professor of Public Policy and Management in the Business School.

The Wales Centre for Public Policy ( is core funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Welsh Government and is a member of the UK’s What Works Network. It collaborates with leading international researchers and other policy experts to provide ministers, officials and public service leaders with high quality evidence and independent advice that can help to improve policy making and delivery. The Centre is also engaged in a programme of leading edge research to advance understanding of the role which evidence plays in the policy process.

Steve has a long and successful record of leading large scale research programmes and has attracted more than £20 million of external research funding from reseach councils, the European Commission, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, UK central government departments, the Scottish Government, Audit Commission, Accounts Commission, the Improvement and Development Agency, Standards Board and the Local Government Association.

His research has focused on public policy evaluation and public service improvement, and he is acknowledged as one of the UK's leading academic experts on local government policy. He has published more 90 papers in leading refereed academic journals, authored 30 book chapters and written in excess of 200 commissioned reports.

Prior to his current role, Steve founded and directed the Centre for Local & Regional Government Research, playing a key role in establishing Cardiff University’s international reputation for research on public services and local government policy.

He has given evidence to a range of select committees and inquiries and has worked as an adviser to the European Union, UK Treasury, Cabinet Office, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Scottish and Welsh Governments, Sport Wales, as well as a range of local governments and voluntary organisations. He was a Director of the Improvement and Development Agency from 2003-2010, a Director of the New Local Government Network from 2007-2016, and the Academic Advisor to the Independent Review of Local Public Services chaired by Sir Jeremy Beecham 2005-2006.

Steve is co-editor of Policy & Politics, a leading international journal, and a member of several other editorial advisory boards.  

Steve has developed and led graduate and post-graduate programmes at Cardiff, Warwick and Aston Universities and has served as an external examiner of a range of PhDs and Masters programmes in the UK and internationally.


  • DipITP, University of Marseilles
  • PhD, Aston University
  • BA (Hons) First Class, Oxford University




















Additional teaching

Steve teaches on the Cardiff's Masters of Public Administration programme, which he played a leading role in establishing in 2005. He also contributes to the IDeA's Leadership Programme and regularly speaks at national conferences on service improvement and local government policy.

He has provided in-house training for the National Audit Office and a range of local authorities, and he led the 'Understanding Whitehall' for senior local authority officers and elected members. He was a module leader on the European Union's MEANS programme, providing training in evaluation methods to senior Commission officials. He has taught MBA and undergraduate programmes at Aston, Birmingham and Warwick Universities and served as external examiner for Masters and Doctoral programmes at Durham University, Birmingham University and Trinity College Dublin.

PhD supervision research interests

  • Audit and inspection of public services
  • Local public services improvement
  • Management and evaluation of public policy

Research projects

  • The impact and effectiveness of the ethical framework in local government, Standards Board for England (2008-2011)
  • Comparing for improvement: the development and impact of public services audit and inspection, Economic and Social Research Council (2006-2008)
  • Competition and contestability in public services, Audit Commission (2006-2008)
  • Review of the Best Value Audit Process, Accounts Commission (2006-2007)
  • International approaches to local governance, Department for Communities and Local Government (2004-2007)
  • Meta-evaluation of the Local Government Modernisation Agenda, Department for Communities and Local Government (2003-2007)
  • Independent review of the role and effectiveness of councillors, Welsh Assembly Government (2006-2007)
  • Evaluation of the long term impact of the Best Value regime, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2001-2006)
  • Mid tern review of structural fund Objective 1 and 3 programmes, Wales European Funding Office (2002-2003)
  • Evaluation of the Neighbourhood Support Fund, National Youth Agency (2001-2004)
  • Beyond performance management, Economic and Social Research Council (2001-2004)
  • The impact of inspection on local government, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2001-2004)
  • Partnership working between the public, private and voluntary sector, Welsh Assembly Government (2001-2003)
  • Evaluation of the Best Value Pilot Programme, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1997-2000)