People in Government Lab

A global, interdisciplinary research centre, focused on people and performance management in the public service.

We're focused on people and performance management which aims to improve the motivation, effectiveness and responsiveness of people working in government, by creating and spreading the evidence base for a better government workforce.

People in Government Lab logo
Mission

The People in Government Lab aims to improve the motivation, responsiveness and effectiveness of people working in government, by bringing together scholars and practitioners to build and share the evidence base for a better government workforce.

Our mission is to put people at the centre of government transformation.

Governments around the world are seeking ways to improve public services and to deliver better outcomes to their citizens. To do this, they often focus on devising new rules, adopting new technologies and implementing innovative methodologies.

However, to truly transform governments, it is crucial to strengthen the performance, motivation and effectiveness of those that make up public bureaucracies - people must be placed at the forefront. Our purpose is to highlight the centrality of people in government and the importance of understanding their values, attitudes and behaviours to improve government performance.

Workstreams

To enact our vision, we have defined three integrated workstreams that nurture and amplify one another:

  1. Leading applied research to understand and improve public employees’ behaviours and performance by combining strong theory, frontier methodologies and deep contextual knowledge.
  2. Engaging with practitioners and policymakers. The purpose of this workstream is to connect evidence and practice, and to pro-actively seek to have impact on governments’ practical realities. The PeopleGov Lab, as a global knowledge hub, brings together practitioners, scholars and experts from the public and private sector across the world through executive sessions with public leaders, workshops and international conferences on people management. Likewise, we make actionable knowledge accessible to policymakers through the PeopleGov Speaker Series. In addition, we engage graduate students through the PeopleGov Summer Fellowship Programme. and the doctoral associate initiative.
  3. Educating the next generation of public managers and scholars by designing and teaching, executive and graduated, courses on people management and, organisational effectiveness, and decision making. We develop new teaching materials using the case study method.

Our research

Our research draws on multiple disciplines and methodologies to understand and design policies to improve public employees’ motivation and performance. It is practical in nature and engages practitioners from around the world to understand public servants (and the organisations in which they work) from different outlooks.

Our research and activities focus on:

  • Motivation, behaviours and attitudes of public employees
  • Organisational and systemic reforms in the civil service
  • Innovation, technology, and digital transformation in the public service

Research projects

Voices of people in government 

In partnership with REDES Peru, this project analyses changes to working patterns, management practices and technological adoption during COVID-19. We have interviewed heads of Civil Service and senior officials from 14 countries across six continents to gather insightful data on how COVID-19 has affected their institutions and their main insights and reflections for the future.

Read the Questioning hierarchies report 

Remote work and people in government

With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, teleworking has become a mandate and governments, as well as companies, need to find strategies and design policies to help employees to work from home. Governments need to deal with issues from identifying and providing to their employees the necessary technology to some behavioural concerns such as trust, creativity, collaboration, connection, and psychological safety.

The current situation represents a unique opportunity to understand and help governments to deal with this unexpected change and to capitalise it for the future. The People in Government Lab team together with 16 researchers from different universities and governmental partners from Brazil, Chile, and United Kingdom have run a set of experiments to evaluate behavioural interventions that would drive more productivity and wellbeing while teleworking or in flexible workplace arrangements.

To design and implement this project, we have partnered with public agencies in three different countries: Brazil (Ministry of Economy; Federal Court of Accounts; Supreme Court; Electoral Supreme Court), Chile (Department for Civil Service; Office of Public Prosecutors), and the United Kingdom (UK Civil Service).

Read the Remote and hybrid working report

Engagement

Speaker Series

The PeopleGov Speaker Series is a set of conversations where academics and practitioners, from the public and private sector,  discuss the most pressing topics on people and performance management. Each talk provides actionable knowledge to address key challenges and opportunities for the public sector. We convene outstanding speakers and an audience of participants with expertise on these subjects to bring together a community of excellence.

International Conference

The People in Government Lab hosted its first international conference to discuss and envision the public service of the 21st century. The conference brought together policy makers, academics, and practitioners from 14 countries. We also presented the results of two of our main research projects, Voices of People in Government, and the Future of Work (remote work project), we discussed how COVID-19 has transformed the civil service across the world, what lessons have been learned, and how governments should be preparing for the future in terms of hybrid and flexible work, news skills and leadership, and technology adoption.

Watch the conference on our Youtube channel.

Blog 

Read about our research at the School's Voices blog.

Newsletter

PeopleGov News is a bi-monthly newsletter with updates on our research and engagement activities. See our recent issues:

Contact

To sign up to our mailing list, or for other enquiries, contact us at peoplegovlab@bsg.ox.ac.uk.

Team

Our team of researchers have experience working in different regions around the world, such as Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. They combine practical experience with an interdisciplinary approach to produce applied research on and for public organisations. 

Funders

Brava logoLemann logo

Humanize logoRepublica logo