Claire Mcloughlin

Claire Mcloughlin

International Development Department

Contact details

International Development Department
School of Government and Society
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham,
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Claire’s research focuses on the political sociology of vital public service delivery in conflict-affected and divided societies. In particular, she is interested in the politics of distributive justice and procedural fairness in service delivery, and the historical processes that embed welfare provision in social contracts. She has published on how and when services become significant for processes of state (de-)legitimation. She has a particular interest in the role of higher education in state legitimation and nation-building. Claire currently conducts research on the politics of development for the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP). She also sits on the editorial board of the journal Governance and is an advisor to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.


  • PhD in political sociology, University of Birmingham, 2017
  • MA International Relations and World Order, University of Leicester
  • BA History and Politics, University of Leicester


Claire joined IDD in 2004 and has over a decade’s experience of conducting policy-oriented research in development. She has published widely on the politics of service delivery in divided societies and conflict-affected states. She has taken a lead role in major reviews of non-state service provision in developing countries and advised bilateral and multilateral aid agencies on the links between service delivery, state legitimacy and stability. She was a senior researcher with the knowledge on demand helpdesk - the GSDRC (now K4D) - between 2004-2017, and has been a senior researcher with the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) since 2014. Claire sits on the editorial board of the journal Governance and is a member of the strategic advisory committee for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. 



Claire contributes to teaching in the following areas:

  • Governance and state-building
  • Making policy
  • Development management
  • Critical approaches to development

Postgraduate supervision

Claire is interested in supervising PhD dissertations in the following areas:

  • Sources of state legitimacy and the politics of (de-)legitimation
  • The politics of public service delivery
  • Education and nation-building


Research focus

  • The politics of public service delivery
  • Sources of state legitimacy and the politics of (de-)legitimation
  • Education and nation-building

Current and recent projects

  • Lead researcher on case study of higher education in Sri Lanka, for Developmental Leadership Programme.
  • Lead author on topic guide on low cost private schools, for DFID.
  • Second author and lead methodology expert on rigorous review of private schools for the economically disadvantaged, for DFID.
  • Supporting the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on the service delivery stream of their flagship programme on Sustainable Governance Transitions.
  • Lead author of working paper on the ‘politics of what works’ in basic service provision, written for the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre (ESID), University of Manchester
  • Supporting expert and co-writer of the OECD handbook on ‘contracting-out government functions and services in conflict-affected and fragile situations’.  
  • Author of GSDRC policymakers guide to Fragile States, produced for the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
  • Co-author of emerging issues paper on state capacity and non-state service delivery in fragile situations, produced for DFID.
  • Rapid response research on a variety of key and emerging governance, conflict and social development issues for DFID, EC and AusAid.


Journal articles

Batley, R., and Mcloughlin, C., (2015). The Politics of Public Services: A Service Characteristics Approach, World Development, Volume 74, October 2015, Pages 275–285

Mcloughlin, C. (2015) When does service delivery improve the legitimacy of a fragile or conflict-affected state? Governance, Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 341356

Batley, R., McCourt, W., and Mcloughlin, C. (2012) The politics and governance of public services in developing countries, Public Management Review

Mcloughlin, C., (2011) Factors Affecting State-NGO Relations in Service Provision: Key Themes from the Literature, Public Administration and Development, Volume 31, Issue 4, pages 240–251

Batley, R., and Mcloughlin, C., (2010), Engagement with Non-State Service Providers in Fragile States: Reconciling State-Building and Service Delivery, Development Policy Review, Volume 28, Issue 2, pages 131–154

Scott, Z., Mcloughlin, C., and Marquette, H., (2012), Combining value for money with increased aid to fragile states: Welcome partnership or clash of agendas?, Crime, Law and Social Change, Volume 1, February 2012

Book chapters

Mcloughlin, (2014) The politics of what works in service delivery, Chapter 5 in Bukenya, B, Hickey, S and Sen, K. The Politics of Inclusive Development: Interrogating the Evidence, Oxford University Press

Rigorous reviews

Day Ashley L, Mcloughlin C, Aslam M, Engel J, Wales J, Rawal S, Batley R, Kingdon G, Nicolai S, Rose P (2014) The role and impact of private schools in developing countries: a rigorous review of the evidence. Final report. Education Rigorous Literature Review. London: Department for International Development.

Working papers

Mcloughlin, C. (2017) When Does Service Delivery Undermine State Legitimacy? Evidence from Sri Lanka, Research Paper no, 44, Birmingham: Developmental Leadership Program

Mcloughlin, C., (2015) Researching State Legitimacy: A Political Approach to a Political Problem, DLP Research Paper 36. Birmingham: Developmental Leadership Program, University of Birmingham.

Mcloughlin, C., (2013) Low-cost private schools: Evidence, approaches and emerging issues, London: Economic and Private Sector PEAKS

Mcloughlin, C., (2013), Performing to expectations? (Re-) Building state legitimacy via service delivery in fragile and conflict-affected states, Paper presented at ISA Annual Convention panel on ‘Theorizing Intervention, San Francisco, 3-6 April 2013

Mcloughlin, C., and Harris, D., (2013), The politics of progress on water and sanitation in Colombo, Sri Lanka, ODI working paper, London: Overseas Development Institute

Mcloughlin, C., with Batley, R., (2012), The effects of sector characteristics on accountability relationships in service delivery, ODI working paper 350, London: Overseas Development Institute

Mcloughlin, C., and Batley, R., (2012), The politics of what works in service provision: an evidence-based review, working paper for the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Programme

Mcloughlin, C. (2009), ‘Fragile States: A Topic Guide’, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC), University of Birmingham, Birmingham

Batley, R., and Mcloughlin, C. (2009), ‘State Capacity and Non-state Service Provision in Fragile and Conflict-affected States’, Unpublished paper prepared for the UK Department for International Development

Teamey, K., and Mcloughlin, C. (2009), ‘Understanding the dynamics of relationships between government agencies and non-state providers of basic services: Key issues emerging from the literature’, Non-governmental Public Action (NGPA) Working Paper Series, London School of Economics, London

Mcloughlin, C. (2008), ‘Political Economy Analysis: A Topic Guide’, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC), University of Birmingham, Birmingham

Mcloughlin, C. (2008) ‘Contracting NGOs to Deliver Basic Services: An Annotated Bibliography’, Whose Public Action? NGPA ESRC research project, University of Birmingham, International Development Department.