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Carol Bernard

Thesis topic

Transforming the Civil Service:  Can models of behaviour and theories of leadership and culture help central government departments deliver Civil Service Reform?


The Civil Service performs a critical role in the contemporary British life by supporting the welfare, safety, and wealth of the country through delivering the mandate of government and performing a critical link between the politic institution and society.  The current UK’s budget deficit has resulted in the need for civil service institutions and departments to put into place major reductions in public expenditure and funds. Simultaneously they are undergoing a momentous reform programme led by the Coalition government. The Civil Service has undergone several government initiated reform programmes over recent decades to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Whilst these reforms have increasingly employed strategic models that emphasise structural change, less prominence has been given to the particular role of leadership, behaviours and culture. These concepts have served to offer significant insights into change in the private sector but have received little attention in the studies of public administration and reform.

Therefore this research will examine the role of leadership, culture and behaviour in civil service reform and what these concepts might offer the current and future reform initiatives. Some of the questions that might offer further insights are:

  • What factors have contributed towards current and previous reforms initiatives
  • Which strategic management practices have been used in successive changes
  • What effect does the British political system have on civil service reforms

Research interests / research methods

  • Strategic Management, Strategy creation in the context of Public Administration, Organisation theory, Cultural change and Leadership.
  • Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research methods


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