Martin J. Williams will spend his time at CASBS working on a book that explores how governments around Africa have sought to implement systemic, performance-oriented civil service reforms over the past 30 years. While improving bureaucratic performance is widely recognized as crucial, it is also notoriously challenging. Williams’s work documents how these efforts have been designed and implemented, as well as the mechanisms of success and of failure that emerge across dozens of reforms. The book argues that reform outcomes have been disappointing because governments have viewed reform mainly as a one-off project to change formal rules and structures, rather than as a matter of catalyzing an ongoing process of continuous improvement. The book links these contributions to academic literatures on bureaucratic performance, public service delivery, and political economy, and discusses practical strategies for reformers to achieve change in practice.
Williams is associate professor in public management at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. His broader research is on policy implementation, public service delivery, and bureaucratic reform, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. He also teaches and researches on the roles of evidence, context, and external validity in policymaking.