Professor James Downe

Job title Director of Research
Organisation Wales Centre for Public Policy
Contact email
Phone number 02920875298

James is a Professor in Public Policy & Management in Cardiff Business School and Director of Research at the Wales Centre for Public Policy. He has previously held academic appointments at the University of Plymouth and Warwick Business School.

He has more than fifteen years’ experience of conducting evaluations on local government policy. This includes a project for the UK government on the Local Government Modernisation Agenda, an ESRC-funded study of performance improvement regimes in England, Scotland and Wales, and research on the Welsh Government’s policy for local government, including its’ executive and scrutiny arrangements.

He has recently led an evaluation of regional collaborative working in Wales and a project examining the effectiveness of the sector-led approach to improvement in English local government.

James is currently working on a Horizon 2020 project examining collaborative governance (TROPICO –, conducting research on shared senior management teams in English local government, and examining how Welsh local government has coped with cuts in public funding.

His research interests are in local government performance regimes, political accountability, sector-led improvement, public trust and the ethical behaviour of local politicians. He has published widely in academic journals including: Public Administration Review, Public Administration, Policy & Politics, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Public Management Review and International Review of Administrative Sciences. Click here for his publications.

James served on the UK Government’s Expert Panel on local governance. He is currently a member of the ESRC Peer Review College and vice-chair of Cardiff Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee.


James’ blogs for WCPP:

The state of democracy in Wales: What is it and how can we measure it?

Understanding organisations that provide evidence for policy

Fairer Futures: Understanding Inequality in the Our Future Wales consultation

The role of Welsh local government in a post-Coronavirus world

Can Research Apprenticeships open the door to a policy career?

Our Theory of Change