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Professor Stephen Wilks

Research Interests

My long standing interest is in public policy, the core executive and what used to be called public administration. My work has migrated through industrial policy to government industry relations and on, since the early 1990s, to competition policy. More recently I have returned to one of my first research preoccupations which in the political power of business. I have been teaching a course on Business and Politics' and am working on a research based book on the Political Power of Business, but one that combines structural and instrumental accounts with an institutional analysis and a core concern with theories of political and economic democracy. As a sub-set of that interest I have been doing work on corporate governance. If ever there was an over-written and under-researched area that is it. Massive potential, as yet barely exploited.

I would be best known for work on competition policy. This includes the first thorough political study of comparative competition policy with Bruce Doern in 1996; the first political history' of competition policy in Britain published in 1999, and a series of recent articles on aspects of British and European competition policy. Competition policy is a beguiling political phenomenon which takes us into theories of capitalism, of regulation and accountability. It is becoming even more central in regulated but privatised economies under the new liberal world view. The disinclination of political scientists to engage properly with business, and at all with competition policy, is a source of puzzlement.

The academic interest in competition policy shades into a more practical interest through membership of the Conmpetition Commission. I have served on eight merger inquiries the latest of which is ITV/BSkyB. Publication of the reports can be found on the Competition Commission website and the latest published report for a group of which I was a mamber is Cliiford Kent Holdings Limited and Deans Foods Group Limited: A Report on the Completed Merger, London, Competition Commission, 2007. This was a merger of the two largest companies supplying eggs to UK retail outlets.

Research on corporate governance has been published in Public Policy and Administration, here is the proof version awaited to 'Boardization and Corporate Governance in the UK as a Response to Depoliticization and Failing Accountability', Public Policy and Admimnistration, 22(4) December 2007, 443-460

Working with research students and postdocs is one of the delights of the job and I expect to continue to combine that with the DVC job. PostDocs have included Lee McGowan (now at Queens) and Ian Bartle (Bath) whilst doctoral students have studied in areas such as:

  • State Aid Policy in Europe
  • European Competition Policy
  • Administrative reform in Turkey, in Portugal, in Brunei and in Korea
  • Next Steps Agencies
  • Merger policy in Europe
  • Corporate Governance in Korea
  • The Monarchy in Japan and the UK
  • Regulatory Reform in Japan

I welcome applications from good doctoral students and am waiting for a good political science study of UK competition policy get the subject away from the grasp of the lawyers and the economists any takers?

Research Supervision

I have supervised theses in all the following areas. All subjects related to my research would be suitable for research students and it would be particularly attractive to supervise joiuntly with colleagues in Law on aspects of competition policy in the UK and Europe.

Public policy
Public administration
Competition policy
Theories of political and economic democracy
Corporate governance
Administrative reform in Turkey, Portugal, Brunei and Korea
Merger policy in Europe
Corporate governance in Korea
Regulatory reform in Japan

Research Students

I am currently supervising the research of three PhD students.

Changsung Jung, working on agencies and quangos in the UK and Korea.

Aleksandra Fernandes da Costa, working on extractive industires. global governence and the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative)

Suhee Kim, working on local governemnt and central-local relations in Korea

As of January 2013 another student, Rafid Fatani has, I'm delighted to say, just been awarded his PhD for a fascinating thesis on Governance of the Internet.

All these students are researching what I regard as fascinating areas and we tend to become engaged in a real dialogue in which I learn as well as guide. I hope that Changsung and Aleks will be submitting their theses for examination in the Autumn of 2013.