Dr Koen P.R. Bartels

Dr Koen P.R. Bartels

Institute of Local Government Studies
Associate Professor in Public Management

Contact details

Address
INLOGOV - School of Government
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Koen Bartels is an Associate Professor in Public Management at INLOGOV. His interdisciplinary research on relationships between citizens and government spans across public policy, urban studies and public administration. He is a leading international scholar in public encounters, social innovation, action research, and interpretive policy analysis.

Koen is INLOGOV’s Director of Postgraduate Research and teaches modules in public leadership, democracy and participation, research design and practice. He is also Core Academic Lead ‘Community Recovery and Renewal’ at the Centre for Urban Wellbeing, Associate Editor of the Action Research Journal, Co-convener of the ECPR Standing Group ‘Theoretical Perspectives on Policy Analysis’, and Lead of the Social Prescribing, Assets and Relationships in Communities (SPARC) Network.

Qualifications

  • PhD in Politics, University of Glasgow, 2012
  • MPhil in Public Administration, Leiden University, 2008
  • BSc in Public Administration, Leiden University, 2006
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Biography

Koen holds a BSc and MPhil in Public Administration from Leiden University (the Netherlands) and a PhD in Politics from the University of Glasgow. He previously worked as Lecturer in Management at Bangor Business School. He currently holds a visiting position at the Heseltine Institute (University of Liverpool).

His interdisciplinary research on relationships between citizens and government spans across public policy, urban studies and public administration. As an action researcher, Koen co-produces knowledge and action with stakeholders to generate learning and change. He is passionate about supporting new ways of relating, thinking and acting that transform relational dynamics between communities and urban governance systems. He has been involved in grant-funded research in excess of £550,000 including co-production, knowledge exchange and impact generation in the UK and abroad.

Koen has published 'Communicative Capacity: Public Encounters in Participatory Theory and Practice' (2015) and ‘Action Research in Policy Analysis: Critical and Relational Approaches to Sustainability Transitions’ (2018) as well as a range of articles and book chapters on social innovation, public encounters, participatory democracy, collaborative governance, urban governance, action research, and interpretive policy analysis. He is currently working on two co-authored textbooks: ‘Doing Interpretive Research’ (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023) and ‘Call to Action Research’ (Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2024).

Koen is INLOGOV’s Director of Postgraduate Research and teaches modules in public leadership, democracy and participation, and research design and practice. He is also Core Academic Lead ‘Community Recovery and Renewal’ at the Centre for Urban Wellbeing, Associate Editor of the Action Research Journal, and Co-convener of the ECPR Standing Group ‘Theoretical Perspectives on Policy Analysis’. Koen leads the Social Prescribing, Assets and Relationships in Communities (SPARC) Network, a cross-institutional collaborative learning space of academic and practice partners concerned with asset-based approaches to social prescribing, addressing health inequalities, and coproducing a social model of wellbeing.

Teaching

  • MSc – Public Leadership
  • MPA - Democracy, Governance and Participation
  • MA Social Research - Research Design, Practice and Ethics

Postgraduate supervision

Public encounters, social innovation, democratic innovation, urban governance, communication, action research, interpretive and qualitative research, relational philosophy, practice theory, policy analysis

  • Ms Sally Ward – Community self-organisation to mitigate wider mechanisms of social injustice and inequality

  • Ms Mega Waty – Co-existing modes of governance and street-level bureaucrats’ practices: the implementation of the CCT programme in Indonesia

  • Mr Kevin Harris – Town and Parish Councils, democratic voice and community action

  • Mr Tangang Andrew Tangang - Collaborative localism: community governments in the decentralisation process in Cameroon

  • Ms. Elizabeth Woodcock – Cross-Sector Collaboration for Wales’ National Wellbeing (external supervisor at Bangor University)

Research

Koen does interdisciplinary research on relationships between citizens and government. He has created an international profile as a leading scholar in four interrelated areas: public encounters, social innovation, action research, and interpretive policy analysis.

Koen has rekindled research interest in public encounters: the relational dynamics ‘in-between’ and around citizens and public professionals. He has studied communicative practices and relational patterns in the context of community participation, collaborative governance, community organising and tax administration. In a range of publications, he reveals what happens when citizens and public professionals meet and what this means for democracy and social justice. He has developed an original theory of communicative capacity that explains how they communicate, why this is so difficult, and what could lead to more productive conversations. His 2013 article on public encounters has become a key reference point in the field.

Koen explores how to sustain social innovation in local governance. He conducts action research with social innovators and local governance stakeholders to support transformative change in system dynamics. His work has addressed relational dynamics of resistance and change, experiential learning, intermediaries and social innovation ecosystems. Over the next years, he will be involved in grant-funded projects in Birmingham and the Netherlands that examine how social prescribing can reduce place-based health inequalities and advance a social model of wellbeing. Together with teams of academics and practitioners, he will co-produce community-driven practices of collaborating, joint learning and advancing systems change.  

Koen has taken a leading role in developing action research in policy analysis and beyond. He has developed a relational approach to co-producing learning and change in urban governance and, with Julia Wittmayer, a critical-relational approach to advancing sustainability transitions. Together, they have organised a series of conference panels and grown a network of action researchers in the field of policy analysis, culminating in a co-authored article, two special issues and an edited volume. Koen has also curated a themed issue for the Action Research Journal, where he is Associate Editor, on the dark side of action research. He is currently collaborating with Davydd Greenwood and Johan Ravn on ‘Call to Action Research: Confronting Political-Economic Inequality, Societal Instability, and Environmental Collapse’ (Edward Elgar).

Koen’s research is at the forefront of the field of interpretive policy analysis. He has improved conceptual understanding of policy as practice and, with Nick Turnbull, relational thinking in public administration and policy analysis. He has co-organised two sections at the ECPR General Conference and co-edited a special issue that have reinvigorated the approach of deliberative policy analysis. With Hendrik Wagenaar, he has published an article about learning and teaching qualitative research and is currently writing ‘Doing Interpretive Research: Experience, Learning and Teaching’ (Oxford University Press). 

Other activities

External roles

  • Core Academic Lead ‘Community Recovery and Renewal’ at the Centre for Urban Wellbeing
  • Associate Editor of the Action Research Journal
  • Chair of the ECPR Standing Group ‘Theoretical Perspectives on Policy Analysis’
  • Lead of the Social Prescribing, Assets and Relationships in Communities (SPARC) Network

Publications

Highlight publications

Bartels, K 2022, 'Experiential learning: a relational approach to sustaining community-led social innovation', Innovation: the European Journal of Social Science Research, vol. 2022, pp. 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/13511610.2022.2121268

Bartels, K & Friedman, V 2022, 'Shining light on the dark side of action research: power, relationality and transformation', Action Research, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 99-104. https://doi.org/10.1177/14767503221098033

Bartels, K, Wagenaar, H & Li, Y 2020, 'Introduction: Towards deliberative policy analysis 2.0', Policy Studies, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 295-306. https://doi.org/10.1080/01442872.2020.1772219

Bartels, K 2020, 'Transforming the relational dynamics of urban governance: how social innovation research can create a trajectory for learning and change', Urban Studies, pp. 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098019889290

Bartels, K & Turnbull, N 2019, 'Relational public administration: a synthesis and heuristic classification of relational approaches', Public Management Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/14719037.2019.1632921

Recent publications

Book

Bartels, K & Wittmayer, J (eds) 2018, Action Research in Policy Analysis: Critical and Relational Approaches to Sustainability Transitions. Routledge Advances in Research Methods, 1st edn, Routledge, London. <https://www.routledge.com/Action-Research-in-Policy-Analysis-Critical-and-Relational-Approaches/Bartels-Wittmayer/p/book/9781138553828>

Article

Bartels, K, Wittmayer, J & Larrea, M 2021, 'Introduction: Action Research, Policy and Politics', International Journal of Action Research, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 3-17. https://doi.org/10.3224/ijar.v17i1.01

Closs-Davies, S, Merkl-Davies, D & Bartels, K 2021, 'Tax Credits as an accounting technology of government: “Showing my boys they have to work, because that is what happens”', Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAJ-12-2018-3798

Bartels, K, Greenwood, DJ & Wittmayer, J 2020, 'How Action Research Can Make Deliberative Policy Analysis More Transformative', Policy Studies, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 392-410. https://doi.org/10.1080/01442872.2020.1724927

Closs-Davies, S, Bartels, K & Merkl-Davies, DM 2020, '“The frog in the pan”: Relational transformation of public values in the UK tax authority', Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, pp. 1-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-11-2019-4280

Bartels, K 2018, 'Collaborative dynamics in street level work: Working in and with communities to improve relationships and reduce deprivation', Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, vol. 36, no. 7, pp. 1319-1337. https://doi.org/10.1177/2399654418754387

Bartels, K & Wagenaar, H 2018, 'Doubt and excitement: An experiential learning approach to teaching the practice of qualitative research', Qualitative Research, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 191– 206. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794117713056

Bartels, K 2017, 'The double bind of social innovation: Relational dynamics of change and resistance in neighbourhood governance', Urban Studies, vol. 54, no. 16, pp. 3789–3805. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098016682935

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Bartels, K 2020, Fitting In: The Double-Sided Work of Intermediating Social Innovation in Local Governance. in H Sullivan & H Dickinson (eds), The Palgrave Handbook of the Public Servant. Palgrave.

Bartels, K 2019, Connecting: a relational approach to re-rooting communities, public services and politics. in M Stout (ed.), The future of progressivism: applying Follettian thinking to Contemporary Issues. Process Century Press, Anoka, MN, pp. 317-354.

Stout, M, Bartels, K & Love, JM 2018, Clarifying Collaborative Dynamics in Governance Networks. in M Stout (ed.), From Austerity to Abundance?: Creative Approaches to Coordinating the Common Good. Emerald, Bingley, pp. 91-115. <https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/S2045-794420180000006005>

Wittmayer, J & Bartels, K 2018, Conclusion: Critical and Relational Action Research for Policy Change and Sustainability Transitions. in K Bartels & J Wittmayer (eds), Action Research in Policy Analysis: Critical and Relational Approaches to Sustainability Transitions. Routledge, London, pp. 247-259.

Bartels, K 2018, Encounters with an Open Mind: Relational Neighborhood Working in Amsterdam. in M Stout (ed.), From Austerity to Abundance?: Creative Approaches to Coordinating the Common Good. Emerald, Bingley, pp. 181-200. <https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/S2045-794420180000006009>

Bartels, K & Wittmayer, J 2018, Introduction: Action Research in Policy Analysis and Transition Research. in KPR Bartels & JM Wittmayer (eds), Action Research in Policy Analysis: Critical and Relational Approaches to Sustainability Transitions. Routledge, London, pp. 1-17.

Bartels, K 2018, Policy as Practice. in R Hoppe & H Colebatch (eds), Handbook on Policy, Process and Governing. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., Cheltenham, pp. 68-88. <https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/handbook-on-policy-process-and-governing>

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