Thomas Elston is Associate Professor in Public Administration at the Blavatnik School of Government.

Dr Elston's research focuses on the organisation of public services in established democracies, particularly on questions of performance, resilience, reform and democratic control. At the School, Thomas teaches classes on political science and public management, and conducts workshops for senior leaders on strategy, organisational feedback and resilience.

Thomas also consults for a range of governments in Europe and North America on issues related to inter-organisational collaboration, civil service performance and public sector reform.

Faculty spotlight on Thomas Elston



Forthcoming. “Going separate ways: Ex-post interdependence and the dissolution of collaborative relations.” International Public Management Journal. (With Maike Rackwitz and Germà Bel.)

Forthcoming. “When the time is right: testing for dynamic effects in collaborative performance.” Public Management Review. (With Germà Bel.)

Forthcoming. “Shifting the deckchairs: How blame avoiders cope with the loss of a scapegoat.” In G. Dimova et al., (eds.), The Politics and Governance of Blame. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (With Christopher Cooper & Anna Bilous.)

2024. “Understanding and Improving Public Management Reforms.” Bristol: Policy Press.

2023. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it: When collaborative public management becomes collaborative excess." Public Administration Review, 83(6), 1737-1760. (With Germà Bel & Han Wang.)

2023. “The effect of inter-municipal cooperation on social assistance programs: Evidence from housing allowances in England.” Rebuilding Macroeconomics Working Paper. London: University College London. (With Germà Bel & Han Wang.)

2023. “Implementing Public Accounts Committee Recommendations: Evidence from the UK Government’s ‘Progress Reports’ since 2012.” Parliamentary Affairs, 76(3), 662-693. (With Yuxi Zhang.)

2023. “Does inter-municipal collaboration improve public service resilience? Evidence from local authorities in England.Public Management Review, 25(4), 734-761. (With Germà Bel).

2021. "Implementing shared services in U.K. central government: A five-year progress report using longitudinal bureaumetrics.OECD Journal on Budgeting. 21(2). 

2020. "Scarcity, policy gambles, and ‘one-shot bias’—training civil servants to speak truth to power." (With Gwyn Bevan) Public Money & Management. 40(8), 615-18.

2020. "Efficiency and legitimacy in collaborative public management: Mapping inter-local agreements in England using social network analysis." (With Ruth Dixon) Public Administration. 98(3), 746-767

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.