Thomas Elston

Thomas Elston

Associate Professor in Public Administration

Dr Thomas Elston is Associate Professor 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 organisation and management of the public sector, particularly the performance of public agencies, the administration of complex organisations, and the political-administrative interface. His work draws heavily on organization sociology. Currently, Thomas is evaluating the potential for interorganisational collaboration (so-called 'shared services') to increase productive efficiency in decentralised 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.

Faculty spotlight on Thomas Elston


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2020. "Implementing shared services in U.K. central government: A five-year progress report using longitudinal bureaumetrics." OECD Journal on Budgeting.

2020. "Scarcity, policy gambles, and ‘one-shot bias’—training civil servants to speak truth to power." (With Gwyn Bevan) Public Money & Management.

2020. "Efficiency and legitimacy in collaborative public management: Mapping inter-local agreements in England using social network analysis." (With Ruth Dixon) Public Administration.

2020. "Using opportunity costs to counter 'one-shot' bias in policy innovation." (With Gwyn Bevan) In H. Sullivan & H. Dickinson (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Public Servant.

2020. "The Effect of Shared Service Centers on Administrative Intensity in English Local Government: A Longitudinal Evaluation." (With Ruth Dixon) Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. 30(1) 113-129.

2019. "Should Councils Collaborate? Evaluating Shared Administration and Tax Services in English Local Government." (With Ruth Dixon) Public Money & Management. 39(1) 26-36.

2018. "Collaborative Cost Cutting: Productive Efficiency as an Interdependency between Public Organizations." (With Muiris MacCarthaigh and Koen Verhoest.) Public Management Review. 20(12) 1815-1835.

2017. "Conflict between Explicit and Tacit Public Service Bargains in UK Executive Agencies." Governance. 30(1) 85-104.

2017. "Principles meet Practicalities: Challenges of Accountability Reform in the British Civil Service." In Christensen, T., & Lægreid, P. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook to Accountability and Welfare State Reforms in Europe (pp. 239-254). Abingdon: Routledge.

2016. "Sharing Services, Saving Money? Five Risks to Cost Saving when Organizations Share Services." (With Muiris MacCarthaigh.) Public Money & Management, 36(5) 349-356.

2014. "Not So ‘Arm’s-length’: Reinterpreting Agencies in UK Central Government." Public Administration, 92(2), 458-476.

2013. "Developments in UK Executive Agencies: Re-examining the ‘Disaggregation-Reaggregation’ Thesis." Public Policy & Administration, 28(1), 66-89.