Governance and Public Policy

Sheffield has long been renowned for its pioneering research into governance and public policy, and the department continues to host many world-leading scholars in the field.

Our Research

Our expertise

Our Governance and Participation researchers have expertise in the following areas:

  • environmental policy and governance 
  • the politics of wellbeing
  • positive public administration
  • digital technology and democratic politics
  • policy lessons from history 
  • power and political institutions
  • the politics of trust
A picture of westminster as seen from the Thames

The governance and public policy research group is theoretically, empirically and methodologically diverse, incorporating a wide range of outlooks in the study of institutions of governance, power dynamics and the policymaking process. Though this inclusive approach has facilitated development of a wide range of expertise (see below), the group is underpinned by a dual focus on theoretical development and synthesis in interpreting governance and the policy process, as well as the real-world outcomes and impacts of who is involved in making policy and how it is made. 

Walk on the bright side

Professor Matthew Flinders talks about his project 'Walk on the Bright Side' which involves an international network of academics researching what DOES work in politics, rather than the doom and gloom of failed policies.

Matt's profile

Online Campaigns and Digital Politics

Professor Kate Dommett from the Department of Politics and International Relations talks about her research into how online political advertising is used in election campaigns. Are they misleading the public or are they useful to decide who to vote for?

Kate's profile

The anatomy of a Wedge Lie and its impact on democratic health

image of someone presenting at a political conference, EU flag in the background

Katie Pruszynski 

Would legal or professional consequences for political actors who lie to the public have a positive impact on our trust in democracy?

Read the PhD case study

Our Projects

Delivering Trustworthy Electoral Oversight

Prof. Kate Dommett

Democratic elections should be free and fair if they are to maintain public trust. To ensure these qualities, societies rely on transparency mechanisms to identify concerning practice. To date, however, systems of electoral oversight have failed to adapt to the digital age, meaning efforts to expose corruption rely on time-consuming manual practice. This project combines computational methods with political science classification techniques to build an automated system for the analysis of electoral spending returns. Moreover, it tests public and practitioner perceptions of this tool to identify how to foster public trust in this technique as a means of electoral oversight.

Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Hub

WISER: Public policies and indicators for well-being and sustainable development

Prof. Ian Bache

The focus on economic growth as an instrument to lead societies towards sustainable and high well-being is increasingly problematic. While Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is  slowing, its environmental and social costs are increasing, such that continued reliance on GDP growth entails a trade-off between the well-being of current versus future generations. In addition, research shows that higher GDP generally hardly improves people’s subjective well-being. To better support policy options, our project aims to develop a new economic development framework that provides evidence-based and theoretically-sound policy insights on how to raise well-being of present generations (leaving no one behind) without sacrificing future well-being.


Elite Trust Perceptions: Causes and Consequences for Democratic Governance

Dr James Weinberg

Whilst decades of research have certified that political trust is responsive to what politicians do and say, we know very little about how politicians themselves perceive levels of public trust or when this might impact their behaviour in office. In a three year research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Dr James Weinberg has surveyed and interviewed elected politicians from three different countries to ascertain the content, predictors, and consequences of politicians’ trust perceptions. Preliminary results inform a new book with Oxford University Press and three additional grant applications on cognate questions such as when and how political interactions can be designed to close trust gaps between politicians and citizens.