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Stephen Martin

Professor Stephen Martin

Director, Wales Centre for Public Policy

Cardiff Business School

+44 29208 75202
sbarc|spark, Floor Second Floor, Room 2.37, Maindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ


Steve Martin is Director of the Wales Centre for Public Policy and Professor of Public Policy & Management at Cardiff Business School.

He has a long and successful track record of establishing and leading highly effective research teams and providing strategic advice to government departments and public bodies.

The Wales Centre for Public Policy works with leading researchers to provide policy makers and public service leaders with accessible, authoritative, independent evidence on major societal challenges. The demand-led approach to supporting evidence-informed policy which Steve and his colleagues have pioneered has attracted national and international recognition and interest from governments and universities around the world.

Prior to his current role Steve founded and directed the Centre for Local & Regional Government Research, playing a pivotal role in establishing Cardiff University’s international reputation for world-leading public policy research. Before coming to Cardiff he led the Local Authority Research Consortium at Warwick Business School where he taught public policy and business strategy.

Steve has led more than 50 large scale research programmes which have attracted more than £25 million in funding from reseach councils, the European Commission, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, UK central government departments and a wide range of public bodies.

His research is focused on evidence-informed policy making and research impac and he has published more 90 papers in peer reviewed journals, 30 book chapters and 200 commissioned reports.

Steve has served in a wide range of high profile non-executive and advisory roles including:

  • Member of the UK's What Works Council (2015 ongoing)
  • International Public Policy Observatory Advisory Group (2023 ongoing)
  • Chair, UK Government Expert Panel on Local Governance (2009-2011)
  • Non-executive Director, Improvement and Development Agency (2003-2010)
  • Trustee, New Local Government Network (2007-2016)
  • Member of the Independent Panel on National Assembly Members' salaries and allowances (2007 and 2008)
  • Academic Advisor to the Independent Review of Local Public Services chaired by Sir Jeremy Beecham (2005-2006)

He has given evidence to numerous select committees and inquiries in England, Scotland Wales and served as an expert adviser to a wide range of governments and public bodies including the:

  • European Union
  • UK Treasury
  • UK Cabinet Office
  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Scottish and Welsh Governments
  • Audit Commission
  • National Audit Office
  • Sport Wales. 

Steve was co-editor of Policy & Politics from 2015-2020, overseeing a threefold increase in its impact factor, and he is currently a member of several other editorial advisory boards.  

He taught on the Local Government Leadership Academy for many years and has developed, led and taught on graduate and post-graduate programmes at Cardiff, WarwicK, Birmingham and Aston Universities as well as serving as external examiner for a range of PhDs and Masters programmes in the UK and internationally.

























Book sections





My research focuses on evidence-informed public policy and research impact. I have a particular interest in local government policy, performance improvement and external inspection of public services.

I have led numerous large-scale multi-disciplinary research programmes and am a passiontate advocate for academically rigorous, policy relevant social science research that helps inform national and local policy decisions.  

I have founded and directed three major research centres, published more than 90 papers in peer reviewed journals, and authored three top-rated REF impact cases. 

Selected Research projects

  • Wales Centre for Public Policy, Economic & Social Research Council, 2022-2028, £7 million.
  • International Public Policy Observatory, Economic & Social Research Council, 2023-2025, £2 million.
  • Wales Centre for Public Policy, Economic & Social Research Council  2017-2022, £6.1 million.
  • The value of trades unions, Wales TUC, 2019, £25,000.
  • Increasing the impact of the What Works Network across the UK, Economic & Social Research Council, 2017-2018, £75,000.
  • Wales Programme for Government, Economic and Social Research Council, 2017, £16,574.
  • Constitutional change and devolution, Economic and Social Research Council, 2015-2017, £160,000.
  • What Works in Tackling Poverty, Economic and Social Research Council, 2014-2017, £200,000.
  • Public Policy Institute for Wales, Welsh Government, 2013-2017, £1.8 million.
  • Wales Public Services 2025, NHS Confederation, WLGA, Solace, CHC and WCVA, 2015-2018, £150,000.
  • Managerial innovation in local government, Cardiff University, 2014-2018, £100,000.
  • Local Government Knowledge Navigator, Economic and Social Research Council, 2012-2014, £150,000.
  • Seeds of Change: the Future of Welsh Public Services, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Big Lottery and Carnegie UK, 2012-2013, £55,100.
  • Evaluation of the local services board ESF development and priority delivery project, Welsh Government, 2012-2016, £150,000.
  • Independent Evaluation of Fire Peer Challenge, Chief Fire Officers Association and Local Government Association, 2013-2014, £20,000.
  • Independent Evaluation of Corporate Peer Challenge, Local Government Association, 2012-2014, £51,000.
  • Developing meta-evaluation methods, Economic and Social Research Council, 2010-2012, £25,000.
  • Expert Panel on Local Governance, Department of Communities and Local Government, 2009-2010, £188,000.
  • Independent assessment of Comprehensive Area Assessment, Audit Commission, 2009-2010, £85,000.
  • Learning to Improve: Independent evaluation of local government policy, Welsh Assembly Government, 2008-2012, £540, 800.
  • The impact and effectiveness of the ethical framework in local government, Standards Board for England (2008-2011)
  • Comparing for improvement: the development and impact of public services audit and inspection, Economic and Social Research Council (2006-2008)
  • Competition and contestability in public services, Audit Commission (2006-2008)
  • Review of the Best Value Audit Process, Accounts Commission (2006-2007)
  • International approaches to local governance, Department for Communities and Local Government (2004-2007)
  • Meta-evaluation of the Local Government Modernisation Agenda, Department for Communities and Local Government (2003-2007)
  • Independent review of the role and effectiveness of councillors, Welsh Assembly Government (2006-2007)
  • Evaluation of the long term impact of the Best Value regime, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2001-2006)
  • Mid tern review of structural fund Objective 1 and 3 programmes, Wales European Funding Office (2002-2003)
  • Evaluation of the Neighbourhood Support Fund, National Youth Agency (2001-2004)
  • Beyond performance management, Economic and Social Research Council (2001-2004)
  • The impact of inspection on local government, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2001-2004)
  • Partnership working between the public, private and voluntary sector, Welsh Assembly Government (2001-2003)
  • Evaluation of the Best Value Pilot Programme, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1997-2000)


Additional teaching

I established and led Cardiff University's successful Masters of Public Administration programme for six years and have taught MBA and undergraduate programmes at Aston, Birmingham and Warwick Universities.

I have served as external examiner for Masters Queen Mary University, Birmingham University and Trinity College Dublin and have examined PhD theses at a range of universities. 

I taught on Local Government Improvement & Development Agency's Leadership Academy and its Graduate Diploma Programme for many years, and have provided in-house training for the National Audit Office and a range of local authorities. I led the 'Understanding Whitehall' for senior local authority officers and elected members, and I was a module leader on the European Union's MEANS programme, providing training in evaluation methods to senior Commission officials. 



  • DipITP, University of Marseilles
  • PhD, Aston University
  • BA (Hons) First Class, Oxford University

Honours and awards

  • Economic & Social Research Council Prize for Outstanding Impact on Public Policy, finalist (2019)
  • Cardiff University Impact and Innovation Award, winner (2018)
  • Cardiff University Excellence in Research Leadership, finalist (2017)

Professional memberships

  • UK What Works Council
  • International Public Policy Observatory Advisory Group
  • PolicyWise Advisory Group
  • Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence Advisory Group

Academic positions

  • Director, Public Policy Institute for Wales (2013-2017)
  • Director, Centre for Local & Regional Government Research, Cardiff University (2000-2014)
  • Reader, University of Warwick (1999-2000) 
  • Principal Research Fellow, Warwick Business School (1994-1999)
  • Lecturer, Aston Business School (1988-1994)                                 
  • ESRC Research Fellow (1986-1988(

Committees and reviewing

  • Editor - Policy & Politics (2015-2020)
  • Editorial Board - Public Money & Management, Policy & Politics
  • Grant Reviewer - Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, Nuffield Foundation
  • Journal Reviewer - Public Administration, Public Management Review, Regional Studies, Local Government Studies, Public Money & Management.