Thomas Elston

Senior Research Fellow in Public Administration

Dr Thomas Elston is Senior Research Fellow in Public Administration at the Blavatnik School of Government. Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, also at the School. He completed his BA at the University of Durham, and his MPA and PhD at the University of Nottingham.

Thomas’s research focuses on the organization and management of the public sector; particularly the performance of public agencies, the administration of complex organizations, and the political-administrative interface. His work draws heavily on organization sociology. Currently, Thomas is evaluating the potential for inter-organizational collaboration (so-called “shared services”) to increase productive efficiency in decentralized public service providers.

At the School, Thomas teaches courses on politics and public management, and is chair of the School’s Research Ethics Committee. He regularly consults for a number of public agencies and NGOs in Europe, the US and elsewhere.

Journal articles

Elston, Thomas & Muiris MacCarthaigh. 2016. “Sharing services, saving money? Five risks to cost-saving when organizations share services.” Public Money & Management, 36(5), 349-356.

Elston, Thomas. 2016. “Conflict between explicit and tacit public service bargains in UK executive agencies.” Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration and Institutions. (abstract)

Elston, Thomas. 2014. "Not so 'arm's length': reinterpreting agencies in UK central government." Public Administration, 92(2), 458-476. (abstract)

Elston, Thomas. 2013. "Developments in UK executive agencies: re-examining the ‘disaggregation-reaggregation’ thesis." Public Policy and Administration 28(1), 66-89. (abstract)

Book chapters

Elston, Thomas. (2017) “Principles meet practicalities: challenges of accountability reform in the British civil service.” In Tom Christensen and Per Lægried (eds.), The Routledge Handbook to Accountability and Welfare State Reforms in Europe (pp. 239-254). Abingdon: Routledge.

Policy and practice

Elston, Thomas. 2015. “Shared services – too good to be true? Three hard truths for governments looking to save money through shared back-office services.Blavatnik School of Government Faculty Blog

Elston, Thomas. 2015. “To share or not to share? Delivering corporate services in 21st-century government.” Blavatnik School of Government Policy Memo Series. University of Oxford. (PDF )

Elston, Thomas. 2014. Evidence submitted to the Cabinet Office review of the administrative classification of public bodies in the United Kingdom. (PDF)

Elston, Thomas. 2014. "Accountability of Quangos and Public Bodies." Written evidence submitted to the Public Administration Select Committee. (PDF)

Select conference papers

Elston, Thomas. 2014. "Shared corporate services in the public sector: a critical review." Paper presented in the panel, Public Service Delivery in the Transforming State, convened by the Public Policy and Administration specialist group at the 64th annual conference of the Political Studies Association, Manchester, UK.

Elston, Thomas and Muiris MacCarthaigh. 2013. "Shared services in Ireland and the UK: unpicking the (latest) public-sector panacea." Paper presented to the Governance of Public Sector Organisations permanent study group at the 35th Annual Conference of the European Group for Public Administration. Edinburgh, UK.

Phone: (+44)(0)1865 614 377

Article by BSG's Thomas Elston and Muiris MacCarthaigh on shared services in government
Public Finance - Thursday, 23 June, 2016
Research from BSG is referenced in the article
The Guardian - Monday, 23 May, 2016