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School of Business and Management

Professor Martin Laffin


Professor of Public Management

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2695
Room Number: Room 3.05, Francis Bancroft Building, Mile End Campus




Martin Laffin is Professor of Public Policy and Management and served as Head of the School of Business Management 2011-16. He was previously Professor of Public Policy and Management, and Deputy Dean (Research), Durham Business School, Durham University. He has also held appointments at the Universities of Glamorgan, Sydney and Melbourne and was a visiting fellow at Georgetown University. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

His research has been in the fields of central-local relations, devolved public services, politician-bureaucrat relationships, professionalism in the public sector, intergovernmental relations and regional government. He has authored or co-authored five books and numerous articles and book chapters on public policy in Britain, Australia, the USA and comparative European perspectives.

At present he is working on comparative intergovernmental relations in Europe. He recently co-edited a special issue of Local Government Studies which analysed the differing intergovernmental relations in ten European countries as all levels of government sought to cope with the Covid-19 Pandemic. He is the lead editor of a forthcoming book on New Perspectives on Intergovernmental Relations: Crisis and Response (Palgrave Macmillan), which develops a novel policy-focussed approach to IGR drawing on a collection of European case studies. He is also working on a long term study of the politics of social housing delivery over the last 20 years in England.



Research Interests:

Topics for potential research students:

  • Intergovernmental relations and central-local relations
  • Regional government
  • Politician-bureaucrat relationships
  • The professions in the public and private sectors



  • De Widt, D. and Laffin, M. (2018), ‘Representing Territorial Diversity: The Role of Local Government Associations,’ Regional Studies 52: 11: 1585-94.
  • Laffin, M. (2019), ‘Explaining Reforms – Post-New Public Management Myths or Political Realities? Social Housing Delivery in England and France,’ International Review of Administrative Sciences 85, 1: 45-61.
  • Laffin, M. (2018), ‘The Politics of Evaluation in Performance Management Regimes in English Local Government’ in I. Kopric, H. Wollman and G. Marcou (eds), Evaluating Reforms of Local Public and Social Service in Europe (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 49-64.
  • Laffin, M. (2018), ‘The Politics of Evaluation in Performance Management Regimes in English Local Government’ in I. Kopric, H. Wollman and G. Marcou (eds), Evaluating Reforms of Local Public and Social Service in Europe (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 49-64.
  • Laffin, M. (2017), ‘Les Nouvelles “Combined Authorities” en Angleterre, Devolution ou Diversion? In G. Champagne (ed.), Droit et gestion des collectivités territoriales (Paris, GIS-GRALE-CNRS, Editions Le Moniteur).
  • Laffin, M. (2015), ‘Planning in England: New Public Management, Network Governance or Post-Democracy? International Review of Administrative Sciences 82, 2: 354-372.
  • Laffin, M., J. Mawson and C. Ormston (2014), ‘Public Services in a “Postdemocratic Age”: An Alternative Framework to Network Governance,’ Environment and Planning C 32, 4: 762-776.
  • Laffin, M. and C. Ormston (2013), ‘Disconnected Communities? ICT, Policy Learning and the Lessons for Central-Local Relations’, Public Money and Management, 33, 3:185-191.
  • Laffin, M. (2013), ‘A New Politics of Governance or an Old Politics of Central-Local Relations? Labour’s Reform of Social Housing Tenancies in England’ Public Administration 91, 1: 195-210.
  • Laffin, M. and Wiessert, C. (2011), ‘Introduction: Policy Formulation Processes in IGR Settings’ in A. Massey et al. Governance and Intergovernmental relations in the European Union and the United States (Edward Elgar: Cheltenham).
  • Laffin, M. (2009), Central-Local Relations in an Era of Governance: Towards a New Research Agenda, Local Government Studies 35, 1: 21-37.
  • Laffin, M. (2008), ‘Local Government Modernisation in England: A Critical Review of the LGMA Evaluation Studies’, Local Government Studies, 34, 1: 109-125.
  • Laffin, M. (2007), ‘The Scottish Liberal Democrats’, The Political Quarterly, 78, 1: 147-155.
  • Laffin, M. (2007), ‘Coalition-Formation and Centre-Periphery Relations in a National party: The Liberal Democrats in a Devolved Britain’, Party Politics, 13, 6: 651-668.
  • Laffin, M. (2007), ‘Comparative British Central-Local Relations: Regional Centralism, Governance and Intergovernmental Relations’, Public Policy and Administration, 22, 1: 74-91.
  • Martin Laffin, Eric Shaw (2007), ‘The New Subnational Politics of the Labour Party’, Party Politics, 13, 1: 88-108.
  • Laffin, M., E. Shaw and G. Taylor, ‘The Parties and Intergovernmental Relations’, in Alan Tench (ed.) Devolution and Power in the UK (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007).
  • Entwistle, T. and M. Laffin (2005), ‘The Prehistory of the Best Value Regime’, Local Government Studies, 31, 2: 205-218.
  • Laffin, M. (2004), ‘Is Regional Centralism Inevitable? The Case of the Welsh Assembly’, Regional Studies, 38, 2: 213-23.
  • Laffin, M., G. Taylor and A. Thomas (2004), ‘Devolution and Party Organisation: The Case of the Wales Labour Party’, Contemporary Wales, 16: 53-74.
  • Entwistle, T. and Laffin, M. (2003), ‘The Multiple Strategies of the Local Government Association: Partner, Player or Think-tank?’ Policy and Politics 31, 1: 37-50.
  • Thomas, A and Laffin, M. (2001), ‘The First Welsh Constitutional Crisis: The Alun Michael Resignation’, Public Policy and Administration 16, 1: 18-31.
  • Laffin, M. ‘Editorial’ (2001), Public Money and Management on ‘The Machinery of Sub-National Government – UK, Australia and Canada’ 20, 2: 3-5.
  • Laffin, M. and Thomas A. (2001), ‘Learning to Work Together: Political-Official Relations in the Welsh Assembly,’ Public Money and Management 20, 2: 45-51.
  • Laffin, M., Thomas, A. and Webb, A. (2000), ‘Intergovernmental Relations after Devolution: The National Assembly for Wales’, Political Quarterly, 71, 2: 223-33.
  • Laffin, M. and Thomas A. (2000), ‘Designing the National Assembly for Wales’, Parliamentary Affairs, 53, 3: 557-590.
  • Laffin, M. (2000), ‘Constitutional Design: A Framework for Analysis’, Parliamentary Affairs, 53, 3: 532-541.
  • Laffin, M. and Entwistle, T. (2000), ‘New Problems, Old Professions? The Changing National World of the Local Government Professions’, Policy and Politics, 28, 2: 207-20.
  • Laffin, M., Purcell, C. (2023) How political parties matter in political-administrative relationships: children’s services policy in England 1997–2019. British Politics, 10.1057/s41293-023-00226-1.
  • Diamond, P. and M. Laffin (2022) The United Kingdom and the pandemic: problems of central control and coordination, Local Government Studies, 48:2, 211-231, DOI: 10.1080/03003930.2021.1997744 [Open access]
  • Bergström, T., Kuhlmann, S., Laffin, M. and Wayenberg, E., 2022. Special issue on comparative intergovernmental relations and the pandemic: how European devolved governments responded to a public health crisis. Local Government Studies, 48:2, 179-190. DOI: 10.1080/03003930.2022.2039636 [Open access].
  • Laffin, M. (2019). Explaining reforms: post-New Public Management myths or political realities? Social housing delivery in England and France. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 85:1, 45–61. DOI:10.1177/0020852317746223.


Areas of Supervision Expertise:

Martin is interested in supervising students in these areas:

  • Intergovernmental relations, central-local relations and subnational government
  • Politician-bureaucrat relationships
  • The professions in the public and private sector
  • The politics of housing and planning

Current Doctural Students:

1st Supervisor


2nd Supervisor

  • Muhammad Afzal, 
  • Xuhong Xu, 'Public Sector Outside Directors and the Performance of State-Owned Enterprises in China'

Public Engagement

Martin was a member of the UK Business and Management Research Excellence Framework 2014 Sub-Panel and of the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 Business and Management Studies Sub-Panel. He has served as the Chair of the Joint University Council Public Administration Committee (2009-11), the learned association for public administration in the UK, and as a Co-Convenor, European Group for Public Administration Standing Group on Local and Regional Government. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

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