Professor Steven Griggs

Job: Professor of Public Policy

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 7786

E: sgriggs@dmu.ac.uk

W: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/pol

 

Personal profile

My research evaluates the contribution of political discourse theory to our understanding of the policy process, analysing, in particular, how shared meanings or institutional rules and norms emerge to ‘make sense’, privilege or constrain different democratic spaces within the policy process.  Empirically, I have investigated these theoretical questions through research into two main areas of study.  Firstly, I have investigated the politics of sustainable aviation and the expansion of airports in the United Kingdom. Secondly, I have analysed the dynamics of participation in neighbourhood governance and the democratic limits of the emerging discourse of community cohesion and sustainable communities.  My current research critically engages with the governance of local public services under conditions of austerity and how local politicians, officers and community activists might best mediate complex economic and social demands and manage conflicts across local communities and neighbourhoods.

I am co-editor of Critical Policy Studies, http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rcps20/current    

Research group affiliations

Local Governance Research Unit    

Publications and outputs 

  • Working in and Against Hybrid Landscapes: Reflections on the Skills and Capabilities of Chief Officers in UK Local Government
    Working in and Against Hybrid Landscapes: Reflections on the Skills and Capabilities of Chief Officers in UK Local Government Giovannini, Arianna; Barnett, Neil; Griggs, Steven; O'Brien, Paul This chapter examines the educational and developmental demands of public managers, exploring the necessary skills and competences required to move across the hybrid landscapes within which they increasingly work. Drawing on in-depth interviews with chief officers in local authorities across the United Kingdom, it first argues that the work of chief officers leads them to navigate between and across different dimensions: be it between sedimented and emergent institutions; “leaping in” and “leaping ahead” performances of leadership; and bonded or bridging relations. Assessing the requisite skills and behaviors of officers to move across such dimensions, the chapter draws attention to the capabilities of serial adaptation, authenticity, and puzzling. Such capabilities are not easily codified, being generated through experiential learning, and nurtured through the demands of reflexive practice. Spaces for reflexive practice are, it is claimed, integral to the developmental demands, resilience, and well-being of public managers, thereby privileging novel forms of critical reflection, action learning, and leadership development that facilitate the opening up of spaces of learning that straddle both theory and everyday practices. Ultimately, however, such forms of learning do not always sit well with the performance management mechanisms of teaching and learning, as well as learners’ own expectations of the classroom. They arguably destabilize traditional power relations between the lecturer and the student, advancing the conditions for the further democratization of the classroom. The study thus ends with a call for more destabilization and experimentation in the provision of novel spaces of learning for public managers and public managers of the future.
  • Two Images of Nantes as a 'Green Model' of Urban Planning and Governance: The 'Collaborative City' Versus the 'Slow City'
    Two Images of Nantes as a 'Green Model' of Urban Planning and Governance: The 'Collaborative City' Versus the 'Slow City' Griggs, Steven; Howarth, David This article examines how the city of Nantes, European Green Capital in 2013, came to promote plans for a new international airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Deploying poststructuralist discourse theory, it analyses how the highly politicised struggle against the airport reveals the limits of the Nantes model of urban sustainability and collaboration, giving rise to a counter model, which we provisionally characterise as the ‘slow city’. While the struggle against the airport can be understood as a rural social movement, we show how its ideals and logics have been progressively displaced to Nantes itself, disclosing new images and possibilities of urban governance. 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.
  • The Power of Now: Re-imagining the Future of Local Government Through Studies of Actually Existing Practice
    The Power of Now: Re-imagining the Future of Local Government Through Studies of Actually Existing Practice Barnett, Neil; Griggs, Steven; Sullivan, Helen This article contends that the study of UK local government, its institutions and actors, is an increasingly ‘niche’ pursuit. We argue that the field is caught in a common sense narrative that plays off local government institutional decline against widespread belief in the future democratic and progressive value of the council-to-come. Identifying persistent appeals to such deficiency narratives, we thus suggest that ‘actually existing’ local government is reduced to the site of critical shortcomings in the present, while its agency is deferred to a future when the council has become what it is not. Such logics, we conclude, reach their height in recent studies of local austerity governance. In response, we call for a turn to an ethos of municipal pragmatism that grounds inquiry in ‘real world’ problems, while developing richer or thicker understandings of the agency of local government that can generate alternative visions grounded in its everyday work. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version
  • Whatever Happened to Councillors? Problematising the Deficiency Narrative in English Local Politics
    Whatever Happened to Councillors? Problematising the Deficiency Narrative in English Local Politics Barnett, N.; Griggs, Steven; Howarth, D. Calls for councillors to change are nothing new, even from staunch defenders of local democracy. But one critical question has been sidestepped: Why have councillors been persistently constructed as a ‘problem’ for local government? This paper draws upon Foucault to detect the emergence and sedimentation of an overriding problematisation of councillors. Our genealogical analysis of a range of public commissions and inquiries, policy documents and academic discourses reveals a ‘deficiency narrative’, forged during the managerialist turn in the 1960s and subsequently reframed in the 1990s and 2000s through the lens of community leadership. We show that the exclusions and methodological limits of this imaginary blinker studies of councillors, leaving an unhelpfully normative stance within local government studies. Such deficits also lead to a ‘smoothing out’ of the complexity of local politics, downplay local dynamics and political work, and miss important insights into the practices of local democracy. 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.
  • The Logics and Limits of 'Collaborative Governance' in Nantes: Myth, Ideology and the Politics of New Urban Regimes
    The Logics and Limits of 'Collaborative Governance' in Nantes: Myth, Ideology and the Politics of New Urban Regimes Griggs, Steven; Howarth, David; Feandeiro, A. This article characterizes and evaluates a paradigm case of urban collaborative governance: the so-called ‘Nantes model’. Stressing its positioning in the particular tradition of French politics, and drawing on poststructuralist discourse theory, this article demonstrates how the myth of the ‘jeu à la Nantaise’ (the “Nantes game”) informs a discourse of urban collaborative governance with a distinctive triad of policy goals. In the context of fiscal tightening and multiple crises, this governance practice involves various strategies designed to incorporate neighbourhoods and communities in the co-production of public policies in a pragmatic way. Analyzing the grammar and forms of these practices reveals that ‘co-governance’ in Nantes functions as a ‘doctrinal abridgement’, leading to a growing managerialization in an increasingly codified system of community participation. We thus conclude that one line of flight in the ‘Nantes model’ signifies a movement away from an image of collaborative pragmatism as a complex praxis of governing to an ideology that conceals the complications and messiness of governing in a collaborative manner. Reseach undertaken as part of the comparative study, Collaborative Governance Under Austerity. 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.
  • The Airports Commission, The Dilemmas of Political Leadership and the Third Runway at Heathrow Airport
    The Airports Commission, The Dilemmas of Political Leadership and the Third Runway at Heathrow Airport Griggs, Steven; Howarth, David This article assesses the character, role and outcomes of the Airports Commission. Analysing its workings from September 2012, it evaluates the final recommendations and then charts the subsequent public reception. The article claims that the Airports Commission’s endeavours to depoliticise aviation by using ‘reasonable’ methods and impartial judgements - often embodied in Howard Davies himself - has been met with local resistance and political opposition, focussed on the proposal to expand either Heathrow or Gatwick. It exposes how the recourse to expert commissions offers only temporary respite for government responsibility and accountability in the making of hard decisions. It concludes that the inability to secure a binding and acceptable agreement does not just reside at the door of the Airports Commission, but the failures of political leadership and the ‘missed opportunity’ to articulate a sustainable vision for aviation after the 2010 moratorium on airport expansion in the south-east of England. 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. Open access article.
  • So Close, But So Far? The Davies Commission and the Contested Politics of UK Airport Expansion
    So Close, But So Far? The Davies Commission and the Contested Politics of UK Airport Expansion Griggs, Steven; Howarth, David Aviation expansion and the construction of a third runway at Heathrow airport is firmly back on the political agenda. Yet, the stark fact remains that a growing list of British governments has been unable to engineer a partial or temporary policy settlement in aviation. Exploring the challenges of reaching such a settlement, this article characterises the shifting and contested political and policy contexts of UK aviation. It begins by exploring the ‘wicked issue’ of aviation expansion before foregrounding how the politics of air travel is riven by competing policy frames, fragmented governance and the absence of gatekeepers. It argues that the Davies Commission and its efforts to remove aviation from the domain of partisan politics provided little more than a temporary respite for government. It thus concludes by questioning whether the May government’s expansion proposals will succeed this time around, outlining how the contributions in this collection address the themes and issues of this overriding policy puzzle. 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. Open access article
  • The Politics of Estonia's Offshore Wind Energy Programme: Discourse, Power and Marine Spatial Planning
    The Politics of Estonia's Offshore Wind Energy Programme: Discourse, Power and Marine Spatial Planning Tafon, R.; Howarth, David; Griggs, Steven There is growing recognition that Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is an inherently political process marked by a clash of discourses, power and conflicts of interest. Yet there are very few attempts to make sense of and explain the political practices of MSP protests in different contexts, especially the way that planners and developers create the conditions for the articulation of objections, and then develop new strategies to negotiate and mediate community resistance. Using poststructuralist discourse theory, the article analyzes the politics of a proposed offshore wind energy (OWE) project in Estonia within the context of the country’s MSP processes. First, through the lens of politicization, it explores the strategies of political mobilization and the rival discourses of expertise and sustainability through which residents and municipal actors have contested the OWE project. Secondly, through the lens of depoliticization, it explains the discursive and legalistic strategies employed by developers, planners and an Administrative Court to displace – spatially and temporally – the core issues of contestation, thus legitimizing the OWE plan. We argue that the spaces created by the pre-planning conjuncture offered the most conducive conditions for residents to voice concerns about the proposed project in a dialogical fashion, whereas the MSP and post-planning phases became mired in a therapeutic-style consultation, set alongside rigid and unreflexive interpretations and applications of legality. We conclude by setting out the limits of the Estonian MSP as a process for resolving conflicts, while offering an alternative model of handling such public controversies, which we call pragmatic adversarialism. 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. Open access article.
  • The Airports Commission, Depoliticisation and the Third Runway at Heathrow Airport
    The Airports Commission, Depoliticisation and the Third Runway at Heathrow Airport Griggs, Steven; Howarth, David
  • 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.

Click here to see a full listing of Steven Griggs's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Local governance; neighbourhood working and community empowerment; environmental politics and protest; political discourse theory; practice theory; critical policy studies.

Areas of teaching

Theories of the Policy Process; Political Discourse Theory; Environmental Policy; Local Government

Qualifications

BA Hons French Studies, Portsmouth Polytechnic, 1985

MA Hons European Studies, Reading University, 1987

PhD, Government, London School of Economics and Political Science, 1999 

Consultancy work

I am currently available for consultancy work.  In the past I have supported scrutiny reviews for local authorities, undertaken assessments of neighbourhood programmes, and worked on national programme evaluations for the CLG.  I have also worked on civil service leadership programmes for the National School of Government and led the three-year senior management development programme for Telford and Wrekin Council.  Should you wish to discuss any potential collaboration, please do not hesitate to contact me.  

Externally funded research grants information

ESRC KTP with Association Public Service Excellence, January 2011-January 2013, Lead academic/joint supervisor, with Catherine Durose.

Prospects for Sustainable Aviation, ESRC Seminar Series, January 2011-June 2012, joint investigator with David Howarth (Principal Investigator, Essex) and Lucy Budd (Loughborough).

British Academy Pilot Study Programme. Building Environmental Coalitions.  Comparative Study of Bristol and Grenoble.  Joint Lead Academic with Stephen Hall, University of West England, September 2011- July 2012.

Policy as Practice, ESRC Seminar Series, January 2008-December 2010, Principal Investigator, with Richard Freeman (Edinburgh), Tim Freeman (Birmingham), Michael Farrelly (Hull) and Mark Bramah (APSE).

Citizen Governance in Diverse Neighbourhoods, British Council Partnership Programme in Science Uk-Netherlands, January 2011, collaborating organiser, with  Chris Skelcher (Birmingham), David Laws (Amsterdam) and Hendrik Wagenaar (Sheffield). 

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