R. A. W. Rhodes

R. A. W. Rhodes
University of Southampton · Department of Politics & International Relations

D. Phil (Essex)

About

269
Publications
167,530
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20,290
Citations
Introduction
I have four current projects: 1. Comparative Cabinets 2. Blurring Genres in political science 3. Interpretive Political Science 4. Court Politics
Additional affiliations
June 2012 - present
Griffith University
Position
  • Professor
March 2012 - present
University of Southampton
Position
  • Professor of Government (Research)

Publications

Publications (269)
Preprint
Full-text available
I provide a brief history of the shift from traditional public administration to new public management to the new public governance. I identify three waves of waves of new public governance - network governance, metagovernance, and decentred governance. Thechapter describes the first two waves briefly before focusing on decentred governance. I argu...
Preprint
Full-text available
This article applies the ideas of the core executive and court politics to the executive of Danish coalition and minority governments. It asks two questions. Do these ideas travel beyond their Westminster origins? What are the dilemmas confronting the Danish executive and its court politics? The analysis is based on documentary sources and 22 elite...
Preprint
Full-text available
What has shaped the different responses to COVID-19? The orthodoxy in the crisis management literature holds that the response to events like COVID-19 is primarily shaped by a decentralized group of actors on the ground. In this paper, we argue that a top-down explanation, focused on the actions and intentions of the core executive, is an essential...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter combines ethnography, autobiography, literature, and political science. Autoethnography refers to using self-reflection to explore anecdotal and personal experience, and connecting this story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings. However, political scientists are holding out against autoethnography’ that...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter explores theoretical approaches to realpolitik or the ‘court politics’ of executive government. The world of court politics is an exploration of who did what to whom, when, how, why and with what consequences. Executive studies form a broad church and the various denominations include rational choice, new institutionalism and political...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter focuses on the ‘backstage’ politics of decision-making in élite networks, rather than the more common focus on the ‘front stage’ politics in the media spotlight. Court politics are commonplace but rarely analysed. This chapter focuses on the court of David Cameron, UK Prime Minister (2010–2016). It describes systematically the practice...
Article
Full-text available
Las narrativas son una excelente herramienta para describir e interpretar las acciones políticas a partir de los relatos o discursos de los distintos actores. Los estudios de administración pública suelen tener una orientación disciplinaria muy conservadora, por eso, el profesor R.A.W. Rhodes propone utilizar a las narrativas como una forma de expl...
Article
Full-text available
For this 100th Anniversary issue of Public Administration, we review one of the more distinctive trends in the study of public administration � the rise of the interpretive approach. We tie interpretivism to an anti-naturalist historicism and humanism in contrast to the formalism and scientism of mainstream public administration. We review develo...
Article
Full-text available
This article reflects on 25 years of editing Public Administration. It provides a brief account of Rod Rhodes's term of office before airing some of his pet bugbears on being an editor and on trends in journal publishing.
Article
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Blurring genres involves a shift from naturalist social science to the analogies of game, drama and text. This article combines ethnography, autobiography, literature, and political science to roam the realms of personal narratives or autoethnography. It explores genres of thought and of presentation not commonly found in political science in a sto...
Chapter
The chapter considers the dilemmas that underpin policy debates: the civil service argument for evidence-based policy, the need for ministers to balance good policy and good politics, and the advisers’ challenge to manage the politics of issues. Friction is an inherent part of the policy dilemma in all cabinet systems as evidence-based assessments...
Chapter
How leaders develop cohesion and direction within a cabinet will depend on institutional and conventional traditions. All leaders will necessarily work through persuasion but there are also levers that can be pulled. There are several imperatives: the need to survive electorally; vulnerability to internal revolt; the means by which ministers can be...
Chapter
This chapter introduces the idea of cabinet government as a way of doing business in executive government. Even though often written off as no longer functional, it still survives, even if there is no single job description. This chapter introduces the three key questions of the book: ➢ What dilemmas do cabinet governments face? ➢ In what way do th...
Chapter
The chapter describes the conventions and practices of Australian government. A variant of the Westminster system, it has a number of characteristics that define its workings and conventions: a written constitution, a federal system with potentially powerful state governments, and a High Court that can interpret that constitution. It also has a bru...
Chapter
This chapter examines the traditions that underpin government in the United Kingdom, with its traditional stress on strong prime ministers dominating their cabinets which control the parliament. Some of these traditions may be myths, but they still create expectations about the way that cabinet government should work. The chapter examines the relat...
Book
Why is cabinet government so resilient? Despite many obituaries, why does it continue to be the vehicle for governing across most parliamentary systems? This book answers these questions by examining the structure and performance of cabinet government in five democracies: the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia.The b...
Chapter
This chapter explains the different forms of accountability: whether blame sharing or formal constitutional. In all cases, holding ministers to account involves the assessment of processes that are often shrouded in secrecy and in which facts are contested. Like so many aspects of cabinet government, accountability processes remain flexible and ope...
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The chapter summarizes the findings, first in a series of empirical observations drawn from the five countries. It looks at the impact of party alignments, access to parliament, the benefits of stability, and finally the usefulness of comparative lessons. Then it revisits the theory to show how an interpretivist, agency-centred account can provide...
Chapter
Full-text available
I provide a brief history of the shift from traditional public administration to new public management to the new public governance. I identify three waves of new public governance - network governance, metagovernance, and decentred governance. This chapter describes the first two waves briefly before focusing on decentred governance. I argue for a...
Preprint
This chapter answers five straightforward questions about an ethnographic approach to the study of the political executive: What is ethnography? Why does it matter? Who does ethnography? What is the research agenda? What are the limits to an ethnographic approach?In answering these questions, there are few ethnographic studies of the political exec...
Article
Full-text available
This article applies the ideas of the core executive and court politics to the executive of Danish coalition and minority governments. It asks two questions. Do these ideas travel beyond their Westminster origins? What are the dilemmas confronting the Danish executive and its court politics? The analysis is based on documentary sources and 22 elite...
Chapter
This chapter combines ethnography, autobiography, literature, and political science. Autoethnography refers to using self-reflection to explore anecdotal and personal experience, and connecting this story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings. However, political scientists are holding out against autoethnography—that...
Book
This book asks, ‘what are the implications of blurring genres for the discipline of Political Science, and for Area Studies?’ It argues novelists and playwrights provide a better guide for political scientists than the work of physicists. It restates the intrinsic value of the Humanities and Social Sciences and builds bridges between the two territ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Blurring genres involves a shift from naturalist social science to the analogies of game, drama and text. This article combines ethnography, autobiography, literature, and political science to roam the realms of personal narratives or autoethnography. It explores genres of thought and of presentation not commonly found in political science in a sto...
Book
Chinese edition of Understanding Governance. (Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University Press) 1997. Reprinted 1999. London: McGraw Hill, Reprinted 2001, 2003 (2), 2008 and 2010.
Chapter
This chapter combines ethnography, autobiography, literature, and political science. Autoethnography refers to using self-reflection to explore anecdotal and personal experience, and connecting this story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings. However, political scientists are holding out against autoethnography’ that...
Chapter
Full-text available
The first step in mapping a research agenda for political science that draws on the Humanities is to describe where we are now. We describe the dominant intellectual trend affecting all British universities over the past four decades – neoliberalism in the guises of marketisation, and managerialism. Two consequences follow - the mainstreaming of re...
Book
This book is a call to arms for interpretivists to embrace their creative intuition for comparative work. The book revolves around the following questions: 1. How can we compare in interpretive research? 2. How do we design a comparative interpretive project? 3. How do we undertake comparative interpretive fieldwork? 4. How do we interpret and anal...
Chapter
This chapter answers five straightforward questions about an ethnographic approach to the study of the political executive: What is ethnography? Why does it matter? Who does ethnography? What is the research agenda? What are the limits to an ethnographic approach? In answering these questions, there are few ethnographic studies of the political ex...
Chapter
This chapter considers the interpretive turn in British public administration. It provides a brief introduction to both interpretive theory and ethnographic methods. It illustrates the approach by summarising some of the (few) cases of the approach ‘in action’. It identifies the advantages of the approach. It discusses applications of the interpret...
Book
This book examine polices through the eyes of the practitioners, both top-down and bottom-up; it decentres policies and policymaking. To decentre is to unpack practices as the contingent beliefs and actions of individuals. Decentred analysis produces detailed studies of people’s beliefs and practices. It challenges the idea that inexorable or imper...
Chapter
This chapter provides a brief history of narrative policy analysis in political science, especially in the study of public administration and public policy. It outlines the specific interpretive approach developed by Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes. It explains what we mean by ‘decentring’ and unpacks the ethnographic toolkit we employ. It provides...
Chapter
This chapter argues the case for an interpretive approach to parliamentary studies in the UK and beyond. The chapter begins with a summary of the traditional institutionalist approach to, and the debates that have preoccupied scholars studying, the UK Parliament. The second section turns to the contribution from new institutionalism before outlinin...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we argue for ethnography as an approach to understanding politics and government. We make three moves. First, we defend a broad approach to ethnography that encompasses more than deep immersion. Second, we build on the small literature that makes the case for political scientists doing ethnography. In doing so, we debunk common myt...
Book
This book collects in one place for the first time the main articles I wrote on policy networks and governance between 1990 and 2005. The introductory section provides a short biography of my intellectual journey. Part I focuses on policy networks. Part II focuses on governance. The conclusion provides the critical commentary, both replying to my c...
Article
Full-text available
This article explores the use of evidence and other varieties of knowledge in police decision-making. It surveys official government policy, demonstrating that evidence-based policy-making is the dominant policy-making paradigm in the United Kingdom. It discusses the limits to social science knowledge in policy-making. The article explores four ide...
Article
This article uses a case study from Queensland to demonstrate the court politics approach's potential to reinvigorate executive studies. Court politics focuses on webs of interdependence within the core executive. It examines the beliefs and practices of elite actors and their fluid and contingent relationships. This article examines the patterns o...
Article
Public sector reform has rarely dropped off the political agenda of Western governments, yet the old craft skills of traditional public administration remain of paramount importance. The pendulum has swung too far towards the new and the fashionable reforms associated with new public management and the new public governance. It needs to swing back...
Article
Full-text available
Public sector reform has rarely dropped off the political agenda of Western governments, yet the old craft skills of traditional public administration remain of paramount importance. Th e pendulum has swung too far toward the new and the fashionable reforms associated with New Public Management and the New Public Governance. It needs to swing back...
Book
Full-text available
Interpretive political science focuses on the meanings that shape actions and institutions, and the ways in which they do so. This Handbook explores the implications of interpretive theory for the study of politics. It provides the first definitive survey of the field edited by two of its pioneers. Written by leading scholars from a range of discip...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to outline the current state of political and administrative ethnography in political science and public administration before suggesting that focus groups are a useful tool in the study of governing elites. They provide an alternative way of “being there” when the rules about secrecy and access prevent partic...
Article
Full-text available
In sharp contrast, organisation studies have a much deeper rooted tradition of using ethnography to study organisations (Bate, 1997; Yanow et al., 2012). It began with the pioneering Hawthorne studies (Mayo, 1945; Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1934) and now encompasses many present-day ethnographic studies of organisations (Boll, 2014a, b; Czarniawsk...
Article
This article seeks to broaden the craft of public administration by ‘blurring genres’. First, I explain the phrase ‘blurring genres’. Second, I provide some examples of early work in administrative ethnography. Third, I compare this early, modernist-empiricist ethnography with interpretive ethnography, suggesting researchers confront three choices:...
Book
The Gatekeepers examines the position of chief of staff to the Australian Prime Minister from the perspective of key individuals who have held it. Exploring the support needs of Australian political leaders, it traces the forces that have shaped the growth and specialisation of the Prime Ministers' Office since Gough Whitlam first formalized the ap...
Book
Lessons in Governing is a unique contribution to the study of Australian policy, politics and government institutions. It examines the position of Chief of Staff to the Australian Prime Minister from the perspective of key individuals who have held it. Exploring the support needs of Australian political leaders, it traces the forces that have shape...
Chapter
Full-text available
The phrase 'executive governance' refers to the merger of two discrete bodies of work, the study of executive government in political science and the study of governance in public administration. We focus on their intersection – on common ground and shared puzzles. We start with a brief account of the several approaches to executive studies in poli...
Book
Australian prime ministers need help and it is their chief of staff who supports the person and the office, steering the prime minister through the challenges and landmines of political leadership. It is about making sure the urgent doesn't crowd out the important. It comes down to finely tuned coordination. It is about winning support in cabinet,...
Article
What lessons about public sector reform can be learnt from using political anthropology to study governance reform? What are the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach? I contrast the everyday working experience reported in Rhodes (2011) with the core themes of civil service reform; namely evidence-based policy making, managerialism, and choi...
Article
This article seeks to identify, map and understand the ways in which the everyday beliefs and practices of British central government departments embed social constructions of masculinity and femininity. It draws on observational fieldwork and repeat interviews conducted between 2002 and 2004 to analyse the everyday practices of departmental courts...
Article
This article analyses the claim that there has been a change in the pattern and exercise of state authority from government to governance. It identifies three waves in the governance literature including network governance, metagovernance, and interpretive governance, and illustrates each wave with a brief example drawn from British government. The...
Article
What intellectual influence, if any, have British public administration scholars had on their American counterparts since World War II? In this article, the author briefly reviews the major areas of theory and research in the British study of publication administration, further identifying important contributions by British scholars in the areas of...
Article
What intellectual influence, if any, have British public administration scholars had on their American counterparts since World War II? In this article, the author briefly reviews the major areas of theory and research in the British study of publication administration, further identifying important contributions by British scholars in the areas of...
Article
Full-text available
The British tradition of political life history has six conventions: ‘tombstone’ biography, separation of public and private lives, life without theory, objective evidence and facts, character and storytelling. I describe each in turn and review the main debates in the tradition before turning to the swingeing critique by ‘the interpretive turn’. P...
Book
As citizens, why do we care about the everyday life of ministers and civil servants? We care because the decisions of the great and the good affect all our lives, for good or ill. For all their personal, political, and policy failings and foibles, they make a difference. So, we want to know what ministers and bureaucrats do, why, and how. We are in...
Article
This article provides a brief intellectual history of my journey from traditional public administration through modernist-empiricism to an interpretive approach and its associated research themes; a story of how I got to where I am. I do so to provide the context for a statement of where I stand now and key themes in my research; a story of where I...
Article
Rod Rhodes' main publications are authored and edited books. Many of the individual articles and chapters were conceived of as dress rehearsals for later inclusion in the books. To avoid duplication and overlap, items included in books have not been listed as separate articles and chapters unless they attracted significant attention in their own ri...
Article
Full-text available
The State as Cultural Practice offers a fully worked out account of the authors' distinctive interpretive approach to political science. It challenges the new institutionalism, probably the most significant present-day strand in both American and British political science. It moves away from such notions as 'bringing the state back in', 'path depen...

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