Photo of Professor Oliver James

Professor Oliver James

BA (Oxon); MSc, PhD (LSE, London)

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Telephone: 01392 264504

Professor of Political Science, Director of Research for Politics

Oliver James works on the public policy and politics of public services, citizen-provider relationships, public sector organisation and reform, executive politics (particularly politician-administrator relations) and regulation of publicly owned and/or funded bodies and services. Current interests focus in particular on three strands of work

1) The role of performance information in citizens and public service users' perceptions of services, political voice and service choice, building in part on work as part of the EU FP7 Project on the Public Sector of the Future discussed below.

2) Mangerial leadership and structural change within public organisations, including the new ESRC funded 'Structure and Organisation of Government' project outlined below and work on the causes and effects of public management leadership change on organisational performance, including the ESRC chief executive succession project outlined below

3) Field experiments as a method in public administration research (particularly for analysing citizen-provider relationships as outlined in 1).

The new project on the ‘Structure and Organisation of Government’ in the UK is supported by £320K (approx.) from the ESRC following a competition under the European Open Research Area. The Project will analyse the political logic of government reorganisation and response/lack of response to policy challenges including case studies of climate change/environmental disruption and financial regulation. Prof. James will work with a Research Fellow at Exeter and in collaboration with researchers in the Netherlands, France and Germany; the Project will run for 3 years from Sept 2014.

He was recently principal investigator on an ESRC funded project assessing leadership succession effects on organisational policy and performance (Grant RES062232471: Chief Executive Succession and the Performance of Central Government Agencies £215K Oct 2010-Sept 2013), and is a UK investigator and workpage lead on satisfaction with public services for a joint EU FP7 Project 'COCOPS: Co-ordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future' (2011-14). He has conducted several projects as part of the recent ESRC Public Services Programme, including the project 'Standards of Evidence for Assessing Public Service Performance' (Grant RES153270014). He supervises several PhD students and teaches courses on the Exeter MPA programme, runs methods courses and teaches about the politics of public services.

Following his undergraduate BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Anne's College, University of Oxford he completed his MSc (with Distinction) and PhD in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics, University of London. He has held academic posts at LSE (lecturer) and at Exeter (lecturer, senior lecturer and reader). He has also worked in HM Treasury on an academic placement and with bodies including the World Bank, OECD, UK National Audit Office and Audit Commission.

He publishes mainly in political science, public policy and public management/administration journals, recent publications include:

Boyne, G, James, O. John, P , Petrovsky, N. 2012. ‘Party Control, Party Competition and Service Performance’ British Journal of Political Science  Vol. 46, pp. 641-660. Published online first 21 Feb 2012.

James, O.  2011. 'Performance Measures and Democracy: Information Effects on Citizens in Field and Laboratory Experiments', Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 21: 399-418.

Boyne, G.A., James, O., John, P. ; Petrovsky, N. 2010.Does Public Service Performance Affect Top Management Turnover?’ Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 20: 261-279.

Boyne, G.A, James, O. John, P., Petrovsky, N. 2009. ‘Democracy and government performance: holding incumbents accountable in English local governments.’ Journal of Politics. Vol. 71 No. 4, pp.1273-1284 doi:10.1017/S0022381609990089

Please use the links on the right for details of teaching, research and publications.