Dr Alice Moseley
Lecturer in Politics
I am a Lecturer in the Department of Politics (since Jan 2016) having previously worked as a research fellow at Exeter and a lecturer and research fellow at the University of Southampton.
My research agenda focuses on two main linked areas: (i) behavioural approaches to public policy and public administration; (ii) citizens' interactions with the state, including co-production and participation in public services, and civic/ political engagement more broadly. I am currently working on projects that address the operation and mitigation of cognitive bias in the bureaucracy, as well as the use of behavioural interventions designed to enghance civic and political engagement in domains such as volunteering and voter registration. Specific areas of applied public policy that interest me include homelessness, housing, social welfare, as well as policies relating to electoral participation.
Much of my recent work makes use of experimental methods, especially field experiments, although I consider myself a mixed methods researcher and make use of a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods. See my research interests page for more information and click here for details of past and present research projects. My publications can also be viewed here.
I research topics in the fields of public policy and public administration, as well as political and civic participation. Some key interests include the following:
- Behavioural Public Policy - the ethics and effectiveness of behavioural tools of public policy
- Behavioural Public Administration - understanding the behaviour of actors in the public administration process, using a multi-disciplinary behavioural & cognitive science literature
- Accountability in public services
- Co-production in public services
- The links between citizens' experiences of public services and their engagement with the civic and political realm
Click here for further details of specific projects.
I am happy to offer research supervision for doctoral students in areas close to my research interests, especially behavioural public policy and administration, accountability and governance in public services and civic/ political engagement of citizens.
Rebecca Baker, PhD Candidate (2017-2020). Funded by Vice Chancellor's Award.
Topic: The impact of a politics and government focused curriculum on civic and political engagement in 16-19 year olds in Further Education. A mixed methods study using surveys, focus groups and field experiments.
Co-supervised with Professor Oliver James.
Past and Present Research Projects
Mitigating Cognitive Bias in the Bureacuracy: Survey Experiments with UK Public Officials, May 2019- Sept 2020
Dr Alice Moseley (PI), Leverhulme/ British Academy Small Grant (Funded from the British Academy's partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Public officials involved in devising and delivering public policy, like all people, are prone to cognitive biases -
unconscious influences which affect the interpretation evidence and subsequent decision-making. Factors like
emotions, inertia and a concern with the present moment can all exert influence, leading to decisions
that might not always be considered the most 'rational'. In the context of public policy, this can sometimes lead
to problems such as inappropriate allocation of public resources, unnecessary regulation or inaccurate
interpretations of risk. This research seeks to understand how best to tackle cognitive bias in public policy
decision-making. The research uses survey experiments, containing hypothetical, but realistic, decision
making scenarios, which test the impact of different strategies designed to reduce the effects of cognitive bias
on public officials' decision-making. The research includes public officials in central and local government in the UK.
Helping Citizens to Exercise Choice in Public Services, UKRC Catalyst Seed Fund, 2014
Dr Alice Moseley (PI), Professor Oliver James (CI) and Dr Carolyn Petersen (CI), University of Exeter.
This project will explore (i) citizens’ use of different forms of information to inform choices (eg performance information, peer testimony, research, own experience); (ii) existing services to support choice (eg brokerage, benchmarking websites, decision aids). Provider and service user views in health and social care settings will be incorporated. Seed funding has been obtained to run workshops to develop a co-produced research agenda with public service commissioners and providers on the development and testing of mechanisms to support user choice.
Giving Time Project (ESRC Funded) – June 2012 - Dec 2014
A collaborative project between University College London, the University of Exeter, the University of Manchester and the University of Southampton. Research Team: Professor Peter John (PI), Professor Gerry Stoker (CI), Professor Oliver James (CI), Liz Richardson (CI), Dr Alice Moseley (Research Fellow) & Matt Ryan (Senior Research Assistant).
Why people give time to contribute to the public good on a voluntary basis is a subject which has held an enduring interest for scholars across the social sciences. The project examines whether sharing information about how others have contributed helps to increase volunteering. The project entails two major randomised controlled trials, one exploring the impact of leader (politician, celebrity and peer) endorsement on volunteering levels, and the other examining the effect of social information on volunteering levels. The project involves volunteers from different contexts: students, those volunteering with national charities and citizens more generally.
Previous Research Projects
Chief Executive Succession and the Performance of Central Government Agencies, ESRC Funded, 2010-2013
A collaborative project between the University of Exeter, the University of Kentucky and the University of Cardiff. Research Team: Professor Oliver James (PI), Professor George Boyne (CI) and Dr Nicolai Petrovsky (CI), Dr Alice Moseley (Research Fellow)
This project examined the causes and consequences of chief executive succession in UK Executive Agencies, using an original panel data set of UK Executive Agencies from 1988 to the present day incorporating biographical data on chief executives and measures of executive agency performance. Building on previous research on leadership change in local government, the project sought to provide a new perspective on succession in central government executive agencies focusing on the effect of ‘insiderness’. We examined a series of question including the effects of insider/ outsider background on performance, influences on chief executives’ length of tenure, explanations for the choice of insider/ outsider appointments, and explanations for the survival of central government agencies.
The project webpage including working papers can be found here
Rediscovering the Civic (ESRC Project), funded by ESRC Ventures, Communities and Local Government, North-West Innovation Network, 2007-2010
A collaborative project between University College London, the University of Manchester and the University of Southampton. Research Team: Professor Peter John, Professor Gerry Stoker, Professor Graham Smith, Dr Sarah Cotterill, Dr Alice Moseley, Dr Liz Richardson.
This project investigated the most effective means to encourage active citizenship. Citizen activities matter because engagement assists public policy outcomes, such as safer communities and more efficient public services. The project sought to develop greater knowledge and understanding of the link between interventions designed to stimulate participation, the level and depth of civic engagement and policy outcomes. This grant also aimed to develop greater knowledge of the type of interventions that policy-makers can undertake to sustain the activities of citizens as users and co-producers of services. The project used innovative experimental methods, including randomized control trials and design experiments, as well as more traditional survey re-analysis, to understand the civic-outcome link. The research was particularly timely in its impact on recent policy debates about ‘nudge’ and led to the publication of the book Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think (John, Cotterill, Moseley, Richardson, Smith, Stoker & Wales).
Click here to view a full text of the book.
The Governance of Collaboration in Local Public Service Delivery Networks: An Empirical Study of the Influence and Dynamics of Vertical and Horizontal Coordination Tools in English Homelessness Services (ESRC/ ODPM/ PwC PhD Stipend), 2004-2008
My doctoral thesis assessed the effectiveness of policy tools designed to foster collaboration in local public service delivery networks and provided an in-depth case study of the underlying bureaucratic politics of collaboration. A mixed methods approach was employed, combining evidence from documentary sources, a postal survey of 193 English Local Authorities and interviews with 'street level bureaucrats' and with civil servants in central government.
External impact and engagement
Giving Time: A Learning Event on Fostering Civic Engagement (ESRC Project) - Nov 2015
In Nov 2015 along with the National Association for Neighbourhood Management I co-organised a one day learning event with 70 Local Government and Third Sector Practitioners and fellow academic colleagues Prof Peter John (PI, UCL), Prof Oliver James (Exeter), Prof Gerry Stoker (Southampton), Liz Richardson (Mancester) and Dr Matt Ryan (Southampton) on the Gviing Time Project.
The day was a lively exchange of ideas and best practices about how best to encourage volunteering, sparked off with key research findings from field experiments we conducted as part of the ESRC Giving Time project. Our experiments attempted to work out how to boost volunteering amongst Older People, Students, Housing Association Residents, and how to encourage greater diversity amongst candidates standing for parish council elections.
The experiments used 'social information', ie information about what other people contribute, and other 'nudges' informed by psychological theory and behavioural economics. We focused on distilling key msessages from the research to inform practice amongst organisations trying to enhance volunteering.
This was a two way street as practitioners were able to give ideas about future experiments and help us interpret our findings as well as explaining what the findings meant to them. We had lively debates about using randomised controlled trials to inform practice and the use of Extreme Citizen Science as a form of citizen contribution to the public good. Guest academics and practitioners including Prof Muki Haklay (UCL), and Justin Davis-Smith (NCVO, now CASS Business Scbool) contributed keynote speeches.
See the live tweets from practitioners engaged in the Learning Event here:
Personalisation and Choice in Health and Social care - Feb 2015
In Feb 2015 with Devon County Council I organised a Research Sandpit and Learning Event attended by a group of over twenty health and social care service users, practitioners from Devon County Council and locally based Voluntary Sector and Infrastructure Organisations, as well as fellow academics from Exeter.
The aim of the day was to think through strategies for researching ways of supporting service users to access information and make choices regarding health and social care in the context of Personal Budgets and the 2014 Care Act. Key findings from research were discussed and practitioners and service users gave their views on how they could best be supported. The event was a great opportunity for practitioners to engage with one another and to discover what different organisations were doing to facilitate service user choice, and a chance to hear about cutting edge research on advice, information and choice.
The event was funded by The University of Exeter's Catalyst Fund with support and assistance from Devon County Council.
- POL2097 - Behavioural Public Policy and the Nudge Agenda
- POL3223 - Political and Civic Engagement in an Age of Political Disaffection
- POLM014M - MPA Applied Studies
- POLM015M - Behavioural Public Policy and Administration
I was appointed Lecturer in Politics at Exeter in Jan 2016, having previously taught at the University of Southampton.
I was lucky enough following completion of my PhD in 2009 to hold post-doctoral research fellow positions on three major multi-university ESRC projects. Two of these projects investigated methods, informed by economic and psychological perspectives, aimed at influencing levels of civic engagement - the Rediscovering the Civic Project (2009-10) with the Universities of Southampton, Manchester and Exeter, and the Giving Time Project (2013-15) with UCL and the Universities of Exeter, Southampton, Manchester. The third project examined succession effects of leaders of UK civil service agencies (Executive Agencies Project) (2010-13) with the Universities of Exeter, Cardiff and Kentucky.
Prior to that I completed my PhD thesis on collaborative public sector management focusing on housing/ homelessness(see more details here). The project was funded by the ESRC in collaboration with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister with Price Waterhouse Coopers.
I teach modules on behavioural public policy/ administration (Master's in Public Administration and 2nd Year Undergraduate), and a third year module on Civic Engagement. I am also the Coordinator of the MPA with Applied Studies Programme.