Prof David Richards

Professor of Public Policy

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I Joined the University of Manchester in 2012, appointed a Diamond Professor of Public Policy and was  Head of Department 2018-2021.

I was awarded my PhD from the Department of Government, University of Strathclyde (1996). The thesis examined the politicisation of the Civil Service under the 1979-97 Conservative Government. I then became a post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham (1995-1998). In 1998 I joined the School of Politics and Communication Studies, University of Liverpool as a Lecturer, becoming a Senior Lecturer in 2001,  Reader in 2004 and Professor in 2009. In the year 2000, I was a Visiting Honorary Fellow at the Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney, Australia. In 2008, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. I joined the University of Manchester in September 2012 as Professor of Public Policy.

My main research interests are in British politics, democracy, public policy, governance and political biography. I am currently the P.I. on two separetely funded projects: 

1. 'Public Expenditure Planning and Control in Complex Times:  A Study of Whitehall Departments’ Relationship to the Treasury (1993-Present)' - The Nuffield Foundation  with Diane Coyle [Cambridge], Martin Smith [York] and Sam Warner [Manchester].

The project examines whether effective financial control is constrained by an approach emphasising centralised, Treasury control, but without a proper understanding of how money is spent and managed throughout complex policy chains for the period since 1993.

2. The UK Productivity-Governance Puzzle:  Are UK’s Governing Institutions Fit for Purpose in the 21st Century? - The ESRC with  Andy Westwood [co-P.I. University of Manchester], Patrick Diamond (QMU) and  Mike Kenny [University of Cambridge].

The research area is aligned to the ESRC Productivity Institute's  Institutions and Governance theme and focuses on the central claim that improvements in UK productivity are constrained by a range of governance pathologies: overcentralised decision making; top-downism; short-termism; siloised policy-making; and the absence of effective joined-up government. The  project explores the extent to which the centralised nature of the UK polity and related policy instruments, notably top-down management of service delivery and public spending prevent the local adaptations and development of transport infrastructure and training to improve productivity at the regional and local levels and hence support the levelling up agenda.  It examines the ways in which local governance institutions have not been given the tools to integrate training and transport in ways that would allow them to tackle their particular productivity puzzles.

My most recent completed research was as P.I. for an ESRC funded project Westminster's Dilemma in a Post-Brexit World: Reconciling a `New Politics' with the Westminster Model with Patrick Diamond [QMU, London] and Alan Wager [UCL] examining  the rise of anti-politics in the UK, demands for new ways of doing politics and considers why, in the shadow of Brexit  reform has  has been limited. 

Previous areas of research have included the changing role of the state through a critique of the literatures on governance, democracy and accountability, the regulatory state and implementation; leaks and whistle blowing in government; a multi-theoretical study on diffuse water pollution; UK institutions and crisis in the 21st century; and finally the role of political biography in political analysis.

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