The Project

This research project is a collaboration between researchers at the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol.

It aims to address two important questions relating to the future leadership and governance of the city:

  • What difference does a Directly Elected Mayor make?
  • What steps can be taken to ensure that the introduction of a DEM brings about benefits and avoids potential disadvantages?

To answer the first question we are carrying out a ‘before and after’ assessment of the governance of the city. The study will throw light on whether or not the DEM model of governance actually has the desired effects – as viewed from different vantage points.

Such evidence will have value, not just in assisting local learning in the context of the City of Bristol, but also in providing insights that could be useful to other cities or city regions contemplating moves towards a DEM model. The findings of this evaluation will be of interest to central government and others interested in improving the effectiveness of local governance.

The research team will address the second question by working closely with the various stakeholders to learn from their experience of changing the governance of the city and to contribute ideas drawn from research on other cities. This involves an action/research methodology in which the researchers engage with those involved in the reform effort to help the process of discovery and lesson drawing. The research project involves working closely with Bristol City Council and other stakeholders in the governance of the city.

The project applies ideas relating to place-based leadership that were developed in a previous project carried out by researchers in SPE. The Public Sector Innovation and Local Leadership in the UK and the Netherlands project examines the role of civic leadership in advancing the cause of social inclusion.

The initial stages of the work were funded through the Prospects Project. We have secured funding from the Economic and Social Research Council in order to think through the impact of the introduction of mayoral governance in the city.

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