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Research projects

Politics and the Future of the Public Sector

The COCOPS project (Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future) is a 3.5 year programme of eight interrelated research projects or 'Work Packages' investigating the impact of public sector reform and deregulation under the New Public Management concept. Co-coordinated by Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, the research is funded by €2.7million of European Commission investment and will be conducted by a team of public administration scholars from eleven universities across ten European countries, concluding in July 2014.

Professor Oliver James is the academic lead for Work Package 4: Satisfaction, choice, and voice in European public sectors. This project will detect trends in satisfaction and behaviour of different socio-economic groups to test the commonly held assumption that New Public Management style reforms, such as the liberalization of utilities and public transport, have lead to two-track public services. This assumption posits that especially well-educated, vocal and wealthy citizens have benefited from liberalization, because they are able to loudly express voice and exercise choice, while the position of more vulnerable citizens vis-à-vis these services has weakened. The result would be a decline in social cohesion. If this assumption is correct, the research should find divergent public attitudes between ‘vulnerable’ and ‘strong’ citizens-as-customers, as measured by income levels and education. This research will focus on the challenge of cohesion and improving citizens’ interaction with services, especially at a time of fiscal constraint.

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