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Ian Stafford

Dr Ian Stafford

Senior Lecturer in Politics and Director of Teaching and Learning

School of Law and Politics

+44 29208 74723
Law Building, Room 2.36, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Available for postgraduate supervision


My teaching and research interests include devolution and territorial politics, British politics and public policy, theories of public policy analysis, comparative politics and US politics.

I was principal investigator (PI) on the recently completed three year research project 'Building Trust? Institutions and interactions of multi-level governance in the UK, Germany and France' (with Professor Alistair Cole) which was part of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD) Civil Society Research Centre funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

In addition to working on the outputs from ‘Building Trust’ project, I am currently also working on further research on transport policy within Wales (with Professor Jonathan Bradbury, Swansea University).

I have published on a wide range of topics, most recently the article ‘States of convergence in territorial governance' in Publius: The Journal of Federalism (with Alistair Cole, Jean-Baptiste Harguindeguy, Romain Pasquier and Christian de Visscher) and a book published by Palgrave, Devolution and Governance: Wales between capacity and constraint (with Alistair Cole).















Book sections



My broad research interests focus on territorial politics and public policy within UK and European contexts. This work has operationalised a variety of theoretical and conceptual frameworks to explore policy and decision-making processes, for example, Koppenjan and Klijn’s (2004) work on network management and Kingdon’s (1995) work on policy streams.

My empirical interest has primarily centred on the UK, either in comparative studies across devolved administrations, for example, exploring debates around policy divergence/convergence and the impact of the asymmetrical model of devolution in the UK, or the detailed analysis of single case studies, for example, the development of transport policy in Wales since devolution and the rescaling of governance arrangements in England.

Current & Completed Projects

Since joining Cardiff University I have worked in four broad areas of research:

Buidling Trust? Institutions and interactions of multi-level governance in the UK, Germany and France

This project utilised a mixed-methods design incorporating interviews, documentary data, a scoping analysis of secondary quantitative data and surveys to explore the role of trust and transparency within the context of multi-level governance. The core research question focused on the extent to which a pan-European convergence in norms of trust has emerged and its relationship to transparency.

The research examined the interplay of trust and transparency within and between three European states: the UK, France and Germany. Within each state the project focused on one strong identity and one ‘instrumental’ territory to explore the impact of factors such as varying identities, institutional configurations and resource profiles on trust and transparency.

For each of the cases the project produced:

  1. National Trust Profiles - drawing on secondary quantitative data
  2. Regional Trust Profiles – drawing on a combination of an original survey in France and secondary data in Germany and the UK.
  3. Qualitative data analysis comparing policy communities via approximately 120 semi-structured interviews with civil society actors in the UK, France and Germany.

The findings from the project have been disseminated in a wide range of international academic conferences and have produced a series of academic articles. The project team is also completing a book based on the project for Policy Press, which is due for publication in 2021/22.

Territorial Governance between Convergence and Capacity

A three year Leverhulme Trust funded International Network, led by Professor Alistair Cole, which brings together scholars from across Europe interested in, and working on questions of territorial governance. The core questions to be investigated by the network revolve around whether the economic crisis has undermined, or reversed the seemingly relentless trend towards decentralisation across Europe from the 1980s to c. 2010. In short, has the context of the fiscal and sovereign debt crisis since 2008 potentially undermined the trend towards enhanced devolution? Or, on the other hand, are the dynamics of policy divergence essentially endogenous (domestic-level), sheltered from the direct effects of these global and European pressures? The network endeavours to capture these processes of convergence and divergence by comparing territorial dynamics in public finance, education and intergovernmental relations in five European states: the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium.

The project focuses on five regions – Wallonia, Andalucía, Wales, Brittany and Saxony – that combine a distinctive and developed territorial capacity with fiscal deficits and/or dependent relations with central States. The research design encompasses semi-structured interviews (30 per region), and a small number of contextual interviews with actors at central government level (10 in each country). The fieldwork in Wales began in late November 2012 and will be completed by early summer 2013. Emerging findings from the Welsh case will be presented at a one-day conference, Europeanising Devolution on 24 May 2013, organised by The Learned Society of Wales in partnership with The British Academy, and with support from Cardiff University, the Leverhulme Trust and the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES),

Exploring the governance of England

The governance of England has remained a problematic issue within the wider devolution settlement since the introduction of the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales in 1999. The regional reform agenda pursued by the previous Labour administration was ultimately undermined by the failure of the November 2004 referendum in the North East on elected regional government and the fortunes of alternative approaches, such as city regions, waxed and waned. However, since the May 2010 General Election the Coalition Government has swept away the last remnants of the regional administrative tier and pursued a radical agenda of ‘localism’, characterised by the devolution of functions and budgets to local authorities and communities, for example, via bottom-up Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). Whilst there have been commentaries on the emergence and early development of these new ‘localist’ structures, there has been little systematic analysis of the capacity of these emerging governance structures to effectively integrate multiple strands of policy and collaborate to respond to strategic challenges facing wider localities. This research builds on past collaborations with Dr Sarah Ayres at the School for Policy Studies at Bristol University, notably the ESRC funded research project ‘English regionalism: rhetoric or substance? Evaluating decision making procedures for Regional Funding Allocations’ (RES-061-23-0033).

Transport policy in Wales

Transport provides a useful case study in understanding many of the wider themes that have emerged since the introduction of devolution in Wales, notably the challenges around building decision-making capacity and developing effective governance arrangements for delivery. My current research builds on work initially undertaken through two separate research projects. Firstly, the University of Wales Board of Celtic Studies funded research project ‘Public Policy and Wales-only Legislation: A Study of Transport Policy’, completed at Swansea University and led by Professor Jonathan Bradbury. This project analysed the development of the transport policy community within Wales since the introduction of devolution and the process by which further transport functions were devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government via the Railways Act 2005 and Transport (Wales) Act 2006. The project also began to examine the initial use of these newly devolved powers by the Welsh Assembly Government, particularly in terms of the development of the Welsh Transport Strategy. This research was then taken forward by the small-scale research project Regional Governance of Transport Policy in Wales as part of the policy strand within WISERD. This project focused on relationship between and decision-making processes adopted by the Welsh Government and Regional Transport Consortia in the development of the Welsh Transport Strategy, National Transport Plan and Regional Transport Plans. A co-authored monograph providing an overview of transport policy in Wales is in development and several papers are in the process of being submitted for publication.

Conference Participation

I regularly participate in the following conferences:

  • Political Studies Association Annual Conference
  • Political Studies Association Territorial Politics Specialist Group Biennial Conference
  • Regional Studies Association International Conference
  • Regional Studies Association Winter Conference
  • Policy and Politics Annual Conference

Reviewer Activities

I have reviewed papers for a variety of academic journals including Regional and Federal Studies, Public Management Review, Political Studies and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.


I am currently the module convenor for two third year undergraduate modules, US Government and Politics (PL9374) and Sex, Drugs and Public Policy (PL9338). In addition, I am the convenor of two postgraduate taught modules Public Policy (PLT069) and Devolution and Public Policy in Wales (PLT074).

In 2014 I completed Cardiff University's Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (PCUTL) and am a Fellow of the HEA.

I am also the Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies for the Department of Politics and International Relations.




Senior Lecturer in Politics, Department of Politics and International Relations, Cardiff School of Law and Politics


2009-12 Research Associate (Policy) (Wales Institute of Social Economic Research and Data, Cardiff University)

2007-2008 Research Associate, School for Policy Studies, Bristol University (ESRC funded research project 'English Regionalism: Rhetoric or Substance? Evaluating Decision Making Procedures for Regional Funding Allocations', RES-061-23-0033)

2005-2006 Research Assistant, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Wales Swansea (Board of Celtic Studies funded research project 'Wales-only legislation: A study of Transport Policy in Wales')


2014 Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (Cardiff University)
2006 PhD Politics (University of Wales Swansea, University of Wales Studentship)
2001 MA European Politics (University of Wales Swansea, ESRC Studentship)
2000 BA (Hons.) Politics (University of Wales Swansea)


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Territorial Politics
  • Devolution in the UK
  • Policy Analysis
  • Comparative Politics