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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Viewpoint From: International Journal of Public Sector Management, Volume 28, Issue 2.
Professor Joyce Liddle
Now that Professor Joyce Liddle has moved on and delivered the editorship of the International Journal of Public Sector Management (IJPSM) into the able hands of Professor Sandra van Thiel it seems like the right moment to record Joyce's formidable contribution to the journal and also to the wider field of public management itself.
To begin, Joyce became Associate Editor of the IJPSM during Professor Colin Talbot's tenure as Editor and, upon taking over its full editorship, she began to carve out the distinctive niche that the journal would come to occupy: global in its remit and with an emphasis upon management practice as well as theory. The IJPSM has also encouraged succinct and timely submissions and maintained the most rigorous of editorial standards over the refereeing and review processes (to which I, as a labourer out in the fields of public policy and management, can testify). Consistent with the journal's name, Joyce has actively sought to make it truly international in scope, doggedly pursuing her many contacts in different countries, using her several networks and taking a very active approach to being Editor. The journal has been noted in particular for featuring special issues around a specific theme, under invited guest editorship. These have often served to highlight topics not generally covered elsewhere. Examples from the past two years include themed issues on medicine and hospital management in Europe, community sports development evaluation, regeneration and well-being, and public sector governance in Asian countries. The Emerald specification for authors to provide highly structured abstracts and a concise word limit has added to the focus and impact of papers amongst both practitioner and academic readerships.
In addition to editorship of the journal, Joyce has published extensively with Emerald and other major publishers, including (with Professor John Diamond) editorship of the well-received book series "Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management" and a jointly edited volume on "European Public Leadership in Crisis". Earlier books include the co-authorship of The Management of Regeneration: Choices, Challenges and Dilemmas and Managing the City for Routledge. Recent edited books have also included (with Professor Markku Sotarauta and Lummina Horlings) "Leadership and Change in Sustainable Regional Development". Joyce's track record of journal publication has included numerous papers in, for instance, Public Management Review, Local Government Studies, Local Economy and Public Policy and Administration dealing with topics ranging from stakeholder influence, regeneration, globalization and leadership through to the role of the voluntary and community "third sector" in the provision of public services. This list is far from exhaustive but it does point to the academic credibility and sustained record of research publication which underlies the role of journal Editor.
Joyce's career has so far spanned several UK Universities including Durham, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Teesside and Sunderland, followed by her current position of Chair at the Institut de Management Public et Gouvernance Territoriale in the University of Aix-Marseilles. Although knowledgeable in many aspects of public governance and policy, Joyce's key academic interests continue to be in regeneration, leadership and urban development, and the nature of the city and the wider region. Contested approaches to urban leadership and ambiguous government policies towards the region have been particularly problematic in the UK and it is in such areas that the comparative stance of the IJPSM has proven so valuable. Joyce has contributed significantly to the process of informing government and practitioners in these and related areas in the role of consultant and advisor, and, overseas, she has worked with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the University of East Finland and the University of Brasilia. Alongside such engagement, Joyce has continued to publish widely in scholarly books and journals and to present at conferences around the world for both academic and professional audiences. This core interest in making theory and research relevant to practice has certainly impacted upon Joyce's priorities in editing a journal which has become an important source for public sector managers internationally. This imperative to contribute to practice as well as theory is important. It may well be ascribed in part to Joyce's roots in north-east England where the glaring need for effective public policy interventions to alleviate the damage caused by market forces sadly remains as pressing as ever. It is also partly due to the grounding in practice provided by the ten years Joyce spent as a civil servant before embarking upon an academic career.
Joyce is a familiar figure to all colleagues who take part in the international conferences and networks associated with public management and public policy. Joyce is Chair of the Joint University Council (JUC) and previously Chair of its Public Administration Committee (PAC) and has been a constant presence at the annual PAC conference over the years in its various locations, beginning with its traditional home at the University of York until its transition into a moveable feast at annual conferences held in different university cities. These included a memorable visit to the Parliament Building in Stormont in 2007 and subsequently to universities in Birmingham, Nottingham Trent, Glamorgan, Plymouth and Edinburgh. The PAC moved to an earlier summer slot in 2014 at Liverpool, a conference which included a very productive collaboration with colleagues from the USA. However, PAC is only one of the academic networks in which Joyce has been active. Her very visible presence has also been found in the conference activity of the Political Studies Association (PSA) of the UK and the academic gatherings of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM). Joyce's considerable professional esteem is also recognized in her status as a Fellow of the Regional Studies Association (RSA). Further, in 2010, she enjoyed the distinction of becoming an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS).
As Editor of the IJPSM, Joyce has demonstrated an excellent understanding of where and when papers from the journal were being viewed and downloaded along with the other mechanisms by which success of a journal is nowadays formally judged. However, she has maintained a healthily critical stance towards the way that processes such as the former Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) have distorted research activity in the UK. Although having an excellent grasp of the impact measures and methodologies by which publications and journals are assessed, including the mysteries of the prevailing UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) regime, Joyce has always maintained a focus on how public management research actually impacts upon what public managers do, and she has exhibited a scepticism about some of the measures by which academics and journals are evaluated, including crude citation scores. Indeed the score-sheet of impressive metrics that can be attained by one group of academics reading and citing another group of academics without the fruits of their work ever troubling the world of practice is something that saddens many scholars in this field. I think I can guess which side of the debate Joyce would be on. Long may that continue.
A final observation to make about Joyce is the most important one of all. It is her generosity: not only in the sense of occupying a prominent position at the bar of any conference, but a true generosity of spirit. Joyce has encouraged countless researchers at early stages of their careers with words of support and offered academic advice to those starting out. This is all done selflessly and for no personal advantage. It is done solely through the generosity and kindness that impels an academic like Joyce to share what they know rather than to keep it to themselves within a professorial bubble. Many readers of these words will have cause to recognize this and, like me, to applaud it.
Although no longer Editor-in-Chief, Joyce's involvement with the journal has not come to an end. She will maintain an active role through her new position as Chair of the Editorial Board. I am sure that from there Joyce will continue her positive and enlightening influence on the journal and the wider field of public management for many years to come. In an austere era where governments are seeking to shrink the public sector for reasons of economy or ideology, the relevance of public management (as discipline and as practice) is ironically increasing not decreasing. This is because all governments, globally, are having to make decisions about the boundaries of the public and the private sectors, about efficiency, about funding choices and priorities and, above all, about how to manage the expansion of demand under conditions of diminishing resources. This is why the journal and the discipline will have a growing importance and why Joyce will continue to have a leading role.