Catherine Needham graduated from the University of Leeds in 1996, and worked for political strategist Philip Gould prior to undertaking an MSc (1999) and DPhil (2004) at Nuffield College, Oxford. She worked in the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London from 2003 to 2012. She joined the University of Birmingham in 2012 as a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Public Management.
Catherine’s research focuses on reform of public services, with particular emphasis on the introduction of consumerist models of service delivery. She is interested in the relative role of quasi-markets and consumer-centred models of decision-making compared to those based on notions of citizenship and publicness. Taking an interpretive approach to policy analysis, she has examined the different ‘narratives of consumerism' contained within recent welfare reforms in the UK , drawing on content analysis of government documents and interviews with policy makers, service users and staff.
Her most recent work has focused on the personalisation of public services, with a particular interest in social care services, examining the relationship between the meta-narrative of personalisation and the frontline practice of service redesign. She is also interested in individualised budgets within public services, and the dynamics through which they reshape service provision. She is also exploring how policy ideas and mechanisms spread across different service sectors, using theories of policy transfer and translation.
Catherine is currently working on a range of research projects to explore the implications of personalisation and co-production for public service delivery. She has collaborated with the Public Policy and Management Association and the Centre for Public Service Partnerships on a project on commissioning for personalisation In the past she has worked on projects on innovation and accountability in secondary education (with NASUWT) and enhancing local performance management (with the National Consumer Council and Unison). She has also worked with the Local Authorities Research Council Initiative on a project on co-productive approaches to local service delivery.
Catherine also has an interest in political communication and marketing. She has incorporated concepts such as relationship marketing, branding and policy transfer into the study of political communications, and applied them to comparative studies of the UK and USA .
Needham, C, Glasby, J and Duffy, S (2012) ‘Commissioning in an era of personalisation’ in Glasby, J. (ed.) Commissioning for Health and Wellbeing: an introduction, Bristol, the Policy Press.
Needham, C (2012) ‘From policy transfer to policy translation: the role of evidence in policy borrowing’, in Glasby, J. (ed.) Evidence, policy and practice: critical perspectives in health and social care, Bristol: the Policy Press.
Needham, C (2011) Personalising Public Services: Understanding the Personalisation Narrative, Bristol: Policy Press.
Needham, C, Glasby, J and Duffy, S (2011) ‘Debate: A Beveridge report for the twenty-first century? The implications of self-directed support for future welfare reform’, Policy and Politics.
Needham, C (2011) ‘Personalisation: from storyline to practice’, Journal of Social Policy and Administration, 45, 1.
Needham, C (2010) ‘Fighting the Last War: Applying the Policy Transfer Approach to Election Campaigns’, Party Politics, 16: 5, 2010, pp. 608-28.
Needham, C (2010) ‘Personalised Public Services: Empowering the Citizen or Liberating the Consumer’, Journal of Public Administration and Policy.
Needham, C (2010) ‘Personalised Public Services: a new state-citizen contract?’, Public Money and Management.
Needham, C (2009) ‘Interpreting Personalization in England’s National Health Service’, Critical Policy Studies, 3:2, 2009, pp. 204-220.
Needham, C (2009) ‘Policing with a Smile: Narratives of Consumerism in New Labour's Criminal Justice Policy', Public Administration Vol. 87, No. 1, Special issue: ‘Decentering Policy Networks', Bevir, M. and Richards, D. (eds), 2009, pp. 97-116.
Needham, C (2008) ‘Realising the Potential of Co-production: Negotiating Improvements in Public Services ', Journal of Social Policy and Society , themed section: ‘Choice or voice or something else? User participation in public services', Greener, I. and Talbot, C. (eds), 7:2, 2008, pp. 221-31.
Needham, C (2006) ‘Customer Care and the Public Service Ethos’, Public Administration, 84:4, December 2006, pp. 845-60.