The public gets what the public wants?

5 March 2021

Launch of pioneering new book sets out proposals for policy makers to incorporate contributions to the common good into policies and projects

Academics, politicians and industry speakers from across Europe will come together on Tuesday, 9 March 2021 to launch a timely new book which advocates a central role for human needs and motives in shaping key policy decisions that affect their lives.

Public Value Management: Institutional Design and Decision for the Common Good, will be launched at an event hosted by Policy Network, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), and the Samuel Lindow Foundation in which speakers will provide local, national and international perspectives on public value issues.

Drawing upon insights from space, nuclear energy, tourism and higher education, the new book is the result of many years of applied policy science scholarship and policy research at UCLan Westlakes with collaborators from Europe, UK and the USA. The book includes public value approaches and case studies from UCLan, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Sellafield and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).

Enabling policy makers to assess, appreciate and enhance the wider value of public spending, including major infrastructure projects, post Covid-19, the book suggests that government ministers should pause to consider the wider implications of all policies and projects, including new public buildings, roads or airports, that impact upon the public sphere.

In connection with these major developments, the book suggests the public also value tangible connections to their community which offer support, create networks and enhance relationships: from childcare and job-matching programmes to practical assistance for older people.

"A public value perspective focuses upon the softer outcomes of the harder outputs of policies and projects and their impact upon the daily lives of citizens. "

Book Editor Dr Rick Wylie

In the book’s foreword Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and speaker at the launch event, said: “As a working politician I can read theory, but I need to be able to apply it. So, I’m delighted that this book is here. In essence it’s a handbook for policy makers which, across a wide range of projects, seeks to help codify and measure the public value of major projects and institutions. The wide range of projects in this book show that there is both public value and a way of evaluating it in every project or organisation.”

UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin, also speaking at the event, added: “Universities can play a key role in this debate as they generate enormous value on conventional measures such as GDP.

“Yet, despite our role as critical ‘anchor’ institutions in local communities, the wider public may fail to appreciate or understand what it is that universities do and the value they generate in the economy and society. At UCLan we are at the vanguard of this research and our vision is to become a public value University, encouraging our students and staff to demonstrate how they are making a wider contribution to society, to citizens daily lives and the communities in which they live.”

UCLan’s Dr Rick Wylie edited the new book and continued: “Enhancing public value outcomes beyond financial measures and economic outputs gives public managers a wider view of the value of their organisation to society. The incorporation of public value management concepts extends their reach beyond the boundaries of their organisation: it also gives citizens in effect, a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, particularly in relation to crucial areas such as planning, housing and infrastructure but also in areas such as nuclear energy and the exploitation of space. A public value perspective focuses upon the softer outcomes of the harder outputs of policies and projects and their impact upon the daily lives of citizens. The more organisations that commit to prioritising public value, the wider the benefits will be felt.”

During 2021/2, continuing research into public value and risk by the main project collaborators (UCLan, ESA, NDA and NNL) will take place. Focussing on climate change, employment, education, nuclear energy and public health, the finding of this research will be disseminated at a London conference, planned for December 2021 with an associated publication.