I am a Professor of Political Science at the University of Nottingham, School of Politics and International Relations. My research and teaching cut across the areas of comparative politics, public administration, public policy and international development.
My research focuses on the challenge of building state capacity in Europe and the developing world. In this context, I am mainly interested in how to best manage people in government, which factors hamper effective management and what actions to take to achieve high performance and integrity in the public service.
I have regularly collaborated with OECD-SIGMA and the Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA) on how to improve civil service management in Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans. The research has addressed problems of civil service reform sustainability in Central and Eastern Europe after EU accession, the challenge of civil service professionalisation, and strategies to strengthen merit recruitment policies in the Western Balkans.
I have long been interested in the politicisation of the senior civil service in post-communist Europe. I was a member of a project that studied Party Patronage in European Democracies. My current work explores the politicisation of senior civil service appointments in the context of democratic backsliding.
Since the mid 2010s, I have expanded my research to study civil service management, bureaucratic performance and anti-corruption in developing countries including Latin America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. It was funded by the British Academy and the UK Department for International Development. With more than 23.000 participants, the project generated the largest cross-country survey ever conducted to identify what works in civil service management in developing countries. My current project in this area builds on the study of civil service management and anti-corruption. It examines the impact of ethics training on corruption in the civil service in Nepal and Bangladesh. The project was funded by the Global Integrity – Department for International Development Anti-Corruption Evidence (GI-ACE) Programme.
In 2022, I secured funding together with Christian Schuster (PI) and Kim Sass Mikkelsen (Co-I) from a joint ESRC/FNR scheme on ‘Training Executives to Enhance Employee Engagement in Government‘. The project focuses on assessing one management practice, executive training, through a field experiment administered in collaboration with the Government of Luxembourg and will run until the end of 2025.