Blogging as academic public policy engagement – a personal journey (Part 1 – 2009-2013)

Cambridge Policy Lab

Almost a decade ago, in 2009, I decided to experiment with blogging as a way of engaging with public policy and management debates.

It wasn’t easy.

I was an academic employed by Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

I said I wanted to start a blog. They said – no you can’t. I asked why? They said, first we don’t know how to and second we don’t want you freelancing and possibly “damaging the brand”.

Let’s back-track a bit to see how I got to this point.

I am not a conventional academic. I left school at 16 with only 5 “O” Levels and went to work as a Lab Tech with what was then ICI Pharmaceuticals research in Alderley Edge.

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Paradoxes of Human Nature and Public Management Reform

Paradoxes of Human Nature and Public Management Reform – Talbot 2005

This is a book chapter based on a key note speech I gave at the launch conference of the Network of Asia-Pacific Schools and Institutes of Public Administration and Governance (NAPSIPAG) in Kuala Lumpur in December 2004.

It tries to draw a link between evolved human social nature and the contradictory tides of public management reform

It was published in this book which is sadly no longer available (although I have a PDF of the entire book if anyone wants it).

The model of human social instincts I use here, which was also used in my book “The Paradoxical Primate“, has since changed as I explain elsewhere on this blog .

 

 

A Very Short, Easy and Free Guide: How to Plan a Dissertation

[I wrote this short note for UG and PG dissertations students I supervise. If it’s of any use to anyone else, please feel free….with acknowledgement of course. Wouldn’t want you falling foul of TurnItIn.]

Having an outline – a road map – that tells you and your supervisor what you expecting to cover in your UG or PG dissertation is an invaluable aid to thinking, researching and writing. Continue reading

Mobilsing Social Science Research for the Media – The Other Research Bureau?

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In a “post-truth” political world, facts have never been more important. Some are easy to find, others require some skill and knowledge to locate and analyse.

Media organizations and journalists are under ever greater pressure to produce sound, fact-based, reporting to counter the tidal wave of fake news and half-truths spread through social media.

They also have less resources to employ their own investigative teams.

There are, however, thousands of well-trained social scientists in the UK – inside and outside of academia – who have the skills and knowledge to unearth the real story. Many young researchers have much to contribute and could always do with a little extra cash. They also can – sometimes – respond quickly to requests. I have worked with several in this way myself.

So, we are thinking of creating a service that brings the demand for quick, efficient, investigative research from media organizations and journalists together with those social scientists who are willing to provide quick but quality access to or digests of the information the media needs. Or, in some cases, to carry out more in-depth investigations?

A sort of “Trust a Trader” or “Rated People” platform for social scientists and the media. We have a preliminary name and logo (above).

We envisage an on-line platform where requests can be made (with a fee offer) and social scientists respond if they can help.

We should stress this would not be investigative journalism – we’ll leave that to the media. This would be background research to help journalists write their stories.

We are interested in hearing from

Media folk if you think this sort of service would be useful and would you or your organizations pay for it?

Social scientists who might want to participate (we’re thinking especially here of early career researchers maybe?) – for payment, obviously.

We want to know if this is a bonkers idea, or something worth trying?

Comments welcome here or directly to me at colin.talbot@manchester.ac.uk 

Who Does Social Inquiry in the UK?

Our new initiative on Deliberative Public Policy has been launched as a separate blog and resources site. Here’s the first post.

Cambridge Policy Lab

Colin Talbot

16 Nov 2016

A lot of public policymaking is based on at least some form of social inquiry – how do Governments know what is going on in their societies and what do they want to do about it?

With academics and research Councils – especially the Economic and Social Research Council – obsessed at the moment with ‘impact’ of our research, its impact on policy has become a central issue.

Recent national controversies like the “Brexit” debate have – as a side issue – also focussed on the role of “experts”.

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The ‘Managerial Revolution’ is Over: They Won?

[Originally published October 28, 2011]

“Income Data Services, which totted up pay, bonuses and various share awards, says the average FTSE 100 executive director pocketed a 49 per cent rise in the last financial year to bring their remuneration to £2.7m a year. Chief executives had to make do with a 43 per cent rise, poor lambs.”

James Moore, The Independent, 28 Oct 2011.

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Britain after the EU Referendum: So Who Are ‘We’ Now?

[This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts on the seismic events triggered by the EU Referendum result. This is my attempt to take a step back and take a broader look at what’s happening.]

The most fundamental question in politics – that comes before “how are we to live together and govern ourselves?” – is “who is the ‘we’ that will live together in this polity?”. 

I do not believe, with Rousseau, that humans were originally noble, isolated, individuals who come together in a ‘social contract’. Nor do I agree with Hobbes that we were likewise isolated, but ignoble, individuals and needed ‘Leviathan’ (government) to force us to live together in some sort of order.

We are a social species – we have always lived together in groups much larger than our immediate family. As Peter Singer so memorably puts it, “we were social before we were human”.

Continue reading