Photo of Professor Stephen Wilks

Professor Stephen Wilks

BA (Lancaster), PhD (Manchester), FCA


Professor of Politics

It has been invigorating over the past three years or so to be reminded of the rewards of reading, researching, exploring – and above all of writing. This has been the benign consequence of stepping back from a whole range of administrative and managerial obligations. The main outcome has been a book entitled 'The Political Power of the Business Corporation' due for publication by Edward Elgar in March 2013. The book takes me back to my earliest research interests and (alarmingly perhaps) to some of my concerns when I wrote my PhD at Manchester.

The book has built on the magical synthesis between teaching and research which has been an ideal for research-led Departments but which is too often inhibited by required teaching and by tactical publication. In this case, through, teaching a course on Business and Politics for the last 8 years has genuinely enriched my understanding, allowed access to the views of a different generation, and, I trust, enlightened (or provoked?) many students.

The book has taken me away from my long standing interest is in public policy, the core executive and what used to be called public administration - or rather it has shifted those interests into a new agenda centred on what I have called 'The New Corporate State' with a focus on political and corporate elites; a struggle to understand the new settlement underpinning the UK's version of 'the market state'; and an imperative to research the influence and accountability of the corporations in the public services industry which are today undertaking many of the tasks that in the past were performed by the British civil service.

My other research and publication interests include corporate governance and I have an ongoing research interest dealing with corporate governance in the public sector. This explores issues of agency independence as well as new public management. (See the December 2007 article in PAC). The public management theme also surfaces in work on the administrative implications of the politics of austerity (see the article in the Korean Journal of Policy Studies, 2010).

My engagement with competition policy continues as academic and practitioner. After 8 years as a Member of the Competition Commission I was appointed in January 2011 as a Member of the Competition Appeal Tribunal. This means operating as a lay equivalent of a High Court Judge and demands a completely fascinating set of skills and obligations as the requirements to deploy 'judgecraft' need to be understood and developed.  The academic work includes an article on European competition policy punblished in December 2007 in the European Competition Review and work in progress on the reform of UK policy explored in an article in the European Competition Journal in 2011. This relatively provocative article rehearses my concerns with the content of the current reforms being legislated during 2013.  The Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading are, of course, being combined. These are interesting but also dangerous times for UK competition policy.

Forthcoming pieces in 2013 include a chapter on Multinationals and Globalisation in a Wiley Handbook edited by John Mikler; and a chapter on the New Corporate State going into a Festschrift for my friend and long-time collaborator, Professor Roland Sturm at Erlangen/Nurnberg.