Professor Jonathan Davies

Job: Professor of Critical Policy Studies

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester Castle Business School

Research group(s): Local Governance Research Unit

Address: The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 257 7818




Personal profile

Jonathan S. Davies is founding Director of the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity and Professor of Critical Policy Studies. He worked at the University of Warwick from 2001-2011, previously completing his DPhil at the University of York.  His first monograph Partnerships and regimes: the politics of urban regeneration in the UK  was published by Ashgate in 2001. His second, Challenging Governance Theory: from Networks to Hegemony was published by The Policy Press in September 2011. Jonathan publishes in leading journals including the Journal of Urban Affairs, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Environment and Planning A, Urban Studies, Political Studies, Policy & Politics and Public Administration.  His research interests span critical issues in governance, urban studies and public policy. In addition to developments in governance theory, Jonathan is also working on a number of projects on crisis and austerity governance. He holds a major ESRC grant, leading an international consortium of researchers in a comparative study of austerity governance. Jonathan welcomes applications from prospective PhD students in these research areas.

Twitter accounts: @profjsdavies, @cura2015.

Research group affiliations

Centre for Urban Research on Austerity -

Publications and outputs 

  • Why is Austerity Governable? A Gramscian Urban Regime Analysis of Leicester, UK
    Why is Austerity Governable? A Gramscian Urban Regime Analysis of Leicester, UK Davies, Jonathan S.; Bua, Adrian; Thompson, Ed; Cortina-Oriol, Mercè Austerity has been delivered in the UK, without durably effective resistance. Read through a dialogue between Urban Regime Theory and Gramsci’s theory of the integral state, the paper considers how austerity was normalised and made governable in the city of Leicester. It shows how Leicester navigated waves of crisis, restructuring and austerity, positioning itself as a multicultural city of entrepreneurs. The paper explores historical influences on the development of the local state, inscribed in the politics of austerity governance today. From a regime-theoretical standpoint, it shows how the local state accrued the governing resources to deliver austerity, while disorganising and containing resistance. Imbued with legacies of past-struggles, this process of organised-disorganisation produced a functional hegemony articulated in the multiple subjectivities of “austerian realism”. The paper elaborates six dimensions of Gramscian regime analysis to inform further research.
  • Governance: Mature Paradigm or Chicken Soup for European Public Management?
    Governance: Mature Paradigm or Chicken Soup for European Public Management? Davies, Jonathan S.; Chorianopoulos, I. Sørensen and Torfing assert that “governance” has become a highly influential paradigm, able to influence the conduct of governing and thus contribute to improving our economies and societies. In responding, we take issue with this pivotal claim, arguing that governance is rather a parochial and decaying paradigm, which failed to improve the way societies and economies were governed.
  • Managing Austerity: Insights into Spatial Governance from an English City
    Managing Austerity: Insights into Spatial Governance from an English City Davies, Jonathan S. The research discussed below is part of an eight case international study looking at how austerity is governed and resisted, conducted in Athens, Baltimore, Barcelona, Dublin, Leicester, Melbourne (Dandenong), Montreal and Nantes. A report summarising each of the case studies is available in English, French, Greek and Spanish and can be downloaded at http:// governance/ (Davies, 2017). The city of Leicester is the subject of this brief comment. Open access article. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the URI link.
  • The Urban Governance of Austerity in Europe
    The Urban Governance of Austerity in Europe Bua, Adrian; Davies, Jonathan S.; Cortina-Oriol, Mercè; Blanco, I.; Chorianopoulos, I.; Feandeiro, A.; Gaynor, N.; Griggs, Steven; Howarth, D.; Salazar, Y The 2008 financial crash and ensuing austerity have brought critical perspectives on political economy into academic debates in democratic theory and public administration. One important area of contention regards “collaborative” and “network” forms of governance. Advocates argue that these comprise an epochal shift that resolves many pitfalls of state and market oriented governance, a consensus that was especially popular during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. This chapter reports research carried out in five cities in Europe (Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, Leicester, Nantes) exploring the impact of austerity politics on the ideology and practice of collaborative governance – would it endure, or be unravelled by, post-crash exposure to austerity and distributional conflict? The chapter concludes that severe austerity erodes the foundations for strong collaborative governance. The inability to survive the return of distributional conflict leads us to conclude that collaborative governance is fully functional only in times of growth.
  • Governing in and Against Austerity: International Lessons from Eight Cities
    Governing in and Against Austerity: International Lessons from Eight Cities Davies, Jonathan S. This report, mainly for non-academic users, summarises the interim conclusions from our ESRC study of austerity governance in eight cities. It also provides an overview of the eight case study cities: Athens, Baltimore, Barcelona, Dublin, Leicester, Melbourne, Montreal and Nantes. We welcome comments and discussion on the CURA website at
  • Interrogating Urban Crisis: Cities in the Governance and Contestation of Austerity
    Interrogating Urban Crisis: Cities in the Governance and Contestation of Austerity Bayirbag, M.; Davies, Jonathan S.; Munch, S. The meaning of ‘urban crisis’, and its applications in concrete struggles to govern and contest austerity urbanism, remains under-specified analytically and poorly understood empirically. This paper addresses the lacuna by opening up the concept of urban crisis to critical scrutiny. It begins by exploring how urban ‘crisistalk’ tends to over-extend the concept in ways that can render it shallow or meaningless. The paper looks secondly at different applications of the terminology of ‘crisis’, disclosing key framings and problematics. In the spirit of critical urban studies, it focuses, thirdly, on practices of crisis-resistance and crisis-making. The paper concludes by summarizing the six urban crisis framings linked to six urban problematics, in order to inform future studies of austerity urbanism and assist in developing more reflexive approaches to the concept. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Austerity Urbanism: Patterns of Neo-liberalisation and Resistance in Six Cities of Spain and the UK
    Austerity Urbanism: Patterns of Neo-liberalisation and Resistance in Six Cities of Spain and the UK Davies, Jonathan S.; Blanco, Ismael This paper explores neoliberalisation and its counter-currents through a six-case study of austerity urbanism in Spain and the UK. Applying Urban Regime Theory it highlights the role of urban politics in driving, variegating and containing neoliberalism since the 2008 crash. Variegated austerity regimes contribute to strengthening neoliberalism, but with limits. Welfarism survives austerity in felicitous circumstances. And, where contentious politics thrive, as in Spain, it holds out the potential for a broader challenge to neoliberalism. In contrast, austerity regimes in the UK cities are strongly embedded. The legacies of past struggles, and differing local and regional traditions form an important part of the explanation for patterns of neoliberalisation, hybridization and contestation. The paper draws on research from two funded projects on austerity governance. It draws mainly from the Spanish TRANSGOB project (The role of Participatory Urban Governance in times of Crisis and Austerity) and also research from our ESRC study of comparative governance under austerity: an eight-case comparative study. Open Access article
  • Network governance in Russia: an analytical framework
    Network governance in Russia: an analytical framework Davies, Jonathan S.; Holm-­‐Hansen, Jorn; Kononenko, Vadim; Roiseland, Asbjorn This article questions the widely held notions of Russian exceptionalism as regards its state–society relations, arguing that the conceptual tools used to study governance in other regions and contexts are applicable in Russia, opening the potential for fruitful comparisons and dialogue. Our analytical framework for studying Russian governance emphasises the concept of networking. We posit that even in contemporary hybrid authoritarian regimes the state is dependent on interactive governance arrangements involving civil society actors. The article applies the analytical framework to an initial synthesis of findings from studies of Russian governance, reported elsewhere in the symposium. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Austerity Realism and the Governance of Leicester
    Austerity Realism and the Governance of Leicester Davies, Jonathan S.; Thompson, Ed
  • Interrogating Networks: Towards an Agnostic Perspective on Governance Research
    Interrogating Networks: Towards an Agnostic Perspective on Governance Research Davies, Jonathan S.; Spicer, Andre Networks have rapidly become the dominant trope in governance theory and practice. While scholarship highlights important benefits, there has been insufficient systematic interrogation of the potential pathologies in network governance. This paper addresses the lacuna. We begin by discussing different kinds of network analysis and distinguishing the specific claims of network governance theory. We then pull together the scattered critically oriented literatures on the topic, identifying major problems with network modes of governance: hypocrisy, distrust, marketization, subjugation, antiproceduralism, fragmentation, and ‘netsploitation’. We finally argue for a more agnostic approach to governance research, capable of taking account of these pathologies and thereby putting networks in their place. This means avoiding the fetishisation of particular modes of governance and giving more careful attention to the settings in which they each can be useful.

Click here to see a full listing of Professor Jonathan Davies's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

Bayırbağ  M K, Davies J S, and Münch S. 2017. “Interrogating Urban Crisis: The Governance and Contestation of Austerity in Cities”. Urban Studies. 59(4): 2023-2038.

Davies J S. 2017.  Governing in and Against Austerity: Lessons from Eight International Cities.

Davies J S, and Blanco I. “Austerity Urbanism: Patterns of Neoliberalisation and Resistance in Six Cities of Spain and the UK”. Environment and Planning A. 49(7): 1517-1536. Open access at

Davies J S,  Jørn Holm-Hansen, Vadim Kononenko & Asbjørn Røiseland. 2016. Network Governance in Russia – an Analytical Framework, East European Politics, 32(2): 131-147.

Davies J S and Spicer A, 2015, “Interrogating Networks: Towards an Agnostic Perspective on Governance Research”. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 33(2): 223-238.

Davies J S and Msengana-Ndlela L G, 2015, ‘Urban Power and Political Agency: Reflections on a Study of Local Economic Development in Johannesburg and Leeds’, Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning, 44: 131-138.

Davies J S, 2014,‘Coercive Cities: Reflections on the Dark Side of Urban Power in the 21st Century’. Journal of Urban Affairs. 36(S2): 590-599

Davies J S, 2013,Just do it differently? ‘Everyday making, Marxism, and the struggle against neoliberalism’, Policy & Politics 41(4): 497-513. 40th Anniversary special edition.

Davies J S, 2012, ‘Network Governance Theory: A Gramscian Critique’. Environment and Planning A, 44(11), 2687 – 2704.

Davies J S and Pill M, 2012, “Hollowing Out Neighbourhood Governance? Rescaling Revitalization in Baltimore and Bristol” Urban Studies, 49(10), 2199-2217.

Davies J S, 2011, Challenging Governance Theory: From Networks to Hegemony.  Bristol, Policy Press.  Research monograph published 28th September 2011.  

Davies J S   'The Governance of Urban Regeneration: A Critique of the 'Governing without Government' Thesis', Public Administration, 80 (1), 2002, 301-322. 

Davies J S  'Urban Regime Theory: a Normative-Empirical Critique', Journal of Urban Affairs, 24, 2002, 1-17. 

Davies J S (2001) Partnerships and Regimes: The Politics of Urban Regeneration in the UK (Aldershot, Ashgate). ISBN 0 7546 1681 9.

Evans M G and Davies J S (1999) Understanding Policy Transfer: A Multi-Level, Multi-Disciplinary Perspective.  Public Administration 77(2) 361-385.

Research interests/expertise

Critical approaches to governance, public policy and urban studies. Governing and contesting austerity.  Applications from prospective PhD students and visiting fellows welcome in these areas.

Areas of teaching

Governance and public policy


DPhil (York)

Honours and awards

DMU Oscar for Oustanding Contribution to Research Excellence, 2017.

Best paper award for paper presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Urban Affairs Association, April 2002: Davies J S 'Partnerships versus Regimes: Why Regime Theory Cannot Explain Urban Coalitions in the UK', Journal of Urban Affairs, 25, 2003, 253-269. 

Warwick Business School Excellence in Publishing Award, 2004:  Davies J S (2004) Conjuncture or Disjuncture? An Institutionalist Analysis of Local Regeneration Partnerships in the UK. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 28(3) 570-585.

Membership of external committees

Elected member of the Governing Board of the Urban Affairs Association (UAA) (2014-17 and 2017-2020)

Member of the UAA Publications Committee (2015-present)

Member of the UAA Journal of Urban Affairs Strategic Development Committee

Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Urban Affairs

Member of the ESRC Peer Review College

International Corresponding Editor - Urban Studies Journal (2017-2019)

Membership of professional associations and societies

Political Studies Association (UK)

Urban Affairs Association (USA)

Professional licences and certificates



We were funded by the ESRC to study collaborative governance under austerity in eight cities - Athens, Baltimore, Barcelona, Dublin, Leicester, Greater Dandenong (Melbourne), Montreal and Nantes.  In July 2017, we published a report for respondents and stakeholders, for discussion at local commissions to be hosted in each participating city, which can be downloaded from the CURA blog.

Recent research outputs


Current research students

Robert Ogman (2013-):

Ruth Lorimer (October 2015 -) 

Externally funded research grants information

Principal Investigator: ESRC funded consortium project (ES/L012898/1), Collaborative Governance under Austerity: An eight-case Comparative Study. £435,131 - April 2015-September 2017.

External advisor: Norwegian Research Council funded project led by the Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research, studying network governance in Russia (2013-2016).

Winner: Urban Studies Foundation and Urban Studies seminar series competition 2013 - Lead Applicant: £19,304 to host conference “Interrogating Urban Crisis” 9-11 September 2013 at De Montfort University. 

Investigator: Spanish Research Council funded consortium led by the Autonomous University of Barcelona, studying austerity governance in Spain and the UK (2012-15).

Principal Investigator: £45,000 from the ESRC for ‘Interpreting the local politics of social exclusion (2004-5).

Co-applicant for £500,000 as part of a multi-institution research consortium led by Mike Geddes (Warwick) to deliver ODPM national evaluation of Local Strategic Partnerships (2002-5).

Professional esteem indicators

Elected member of the Urban Affairs Association Governing Board: March 2014-March 2017. Re-elected for second term April 2017-March 2020. See

Advisor to the UK Labour Party's Community Wealth Building Unit. 2018 - 

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