Many public service changes have little basis in evidence. Their success (or otherwise) does not appear to depend on how 'good' the policy itself is, but rather on how it has been implemented. This relies on staff attitudes and relationships. My research falls into a number of broad categories: finding out what is currently happening; what people think about it; and what people think it will mean. It's revealed important lessons about leadership and engagement. Crucially, I've been able to illustrate these lessons in time to apply them to the policy or change within the implementation timescale. Of course universities and think-tank bodies are the ideal repositories for research - they have vast resources and rock-solid processes. Sometimes you need a quick answer, one that tells you whether it's worth pursuing this line of information, or a creative approach where the initiative/policy/change is basically new and nobody really understands what the expected ramifications are likely to be. My study on Payment by Results was one of these - where all of the statistical and financial measures had already been applied and turned up "no change" - i used that evidence, for sure, but then got under the skin by asking those most involved what they thought would actually happen, based on their own (considerable) experience; and they managed to highlight evidence that the numbers people had not been able to find. Speaking of universities, I'm an associate at Liverpool John Moore University (LJMU) and speaking at Institute for Employment Studies.
[last updated July 2007]