Portrait of Eleanor Carter

Eleanor Carter

Acting Research Director (GO Lab)

Eleanor leads the research agenda of the Government Outcomes Lab. Her research focuses on innovations in social policy and outcomes-based commissioning. She joined the Blavatnik School of Government in 2016 having previously studied at the Universities of Cambridge and Sheffield.

Eleanor’s doctoral research investigated the application of outcomes-based commissioning within the UK Government’s welfare-to-work programmes. The analysis explores how particular programme design innovations map onto concerns of variable and potentially neglectful service provision and assesses whether developments in payment structure and governance arrangements deliver value for money to commissioners.

Before moving to Oxford, Eleanor gained experience from the policy-maker perspective working as an advisor for the Social Investment and Finance Team in the UK’s Cabinet Office and through collaborative research projects with the Department for Work and Pensions.

Eleanor’s work has been published in a range of journals including Social Policy and Administration and Journal of Social Policy. Key research outputs have also been translated into policy submissions and she frequently advises on policy design and evaluation strategies for government departments and voluntary sector organisations.



Peer-reviewed journal articles

Carter, E. (2019) ‘More than marketised? Exploring the governance and accountability mechanisms at Play in Social Impact Bonds’, Journal of Economic Policy Reform, DOI: 10.1080/17487870.2019.1575736.

FitzGerald, C., Carter, E., Dixon, R. and Airoldi, M. (2019) ‘Walking the contractual tightrope: a transaction cost economics perspective on social impact bonds’, Public Money & Management, 39, 458–467.

Carter, E. (2018) ‘Making markets in employment support: does the variety of quasi-market matter for people with disabilities and health conditions?’, in: Needham, C., Heins, E., Rees, J. (Eds.), Social Policy Review 30: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2018. Policy Press, Bristol.

Whitworth, A. and Carter, E. (2017) ‘Rescaling employment support accountability: From negative national neoliberalism to positively integrated city-region ecosystems’, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 
DOI: 10.1177/2399654417708788

Carter, E. and Whitworth, A. (2016) 'Work Activation Regimes and Well-being of Unemployed People: Rhetoric, Risk and Reality of Quasi-Marketization in the UK Work Programme', Social Policy and Administration
DOI: 10.1111/spol.12206

Whitworth, A. Carter, E. Ballas, D. and Moon, G. (2016) 'Estimating uncertainty in spatial microsimulation approaches to small area estimation: A new approach to solving an old problem', Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 

Carter, E. and Whitworth, A. (2015) 'Creaming and parking in quasi-marketized welfare-to-work schemes: designed out of or designed in to the UK Work Programme', Journal of Social Policy

Rees, J. Whitworth, A. and Carter, E. (2014) Support for All in the UK Work Programme? Differential Payments, Same Old Problem. Social Policy & Administration, 48(2), 221-239

Whitworth, A. and Carter, E. (2014) 'Welfare-to-work reform, power and inequality: from governance to governmentalities' Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 22, 2, pp104-117

Book chapters

Whitworth, A. and Carter, E. (2016) 'Employment' in Alcock, P, Haux, T, May, M and Wright, S (eds) The student's companion to social policy. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell

Rees, J., Whitworth, A. and Carter, E. (2015) 'Support for all in the UK Work Programme? Differential payments, same old problem' in Considine, M. and O'Sullivan, S. (eds.) Contracting out welfare services: Comparing international policy designs for unemployment assistance, Chicester: Wiley Blackwell.


Carter, E., FitzGerald, C., Dixon, R., Economy, C., Hameed, T., and Airoldi, M. (2018) 'Building the tools for public services to secure better outcomes: Collaboration, Prevention, Innovation', Government Outcomes Lab, University of Oxford, Blavatnik School of Government.

Carter, E. and Whitworth, A. (2015) 'Activating the (un)employed: embedded trajectories, embedded problems?' in Foster, L, Brunton, A, Deeming, C and Haux, T (eds) In defence of welfare 2. UK Social Policy Association

Whitworth, A. and Carter, E. (2015) 'Understanding Wales at the neighbourhood level: Maximising the performance of small area estimation'. Welsh Government, Cardiff Main Report (PDF)