The John Gaus Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor a lifetime of exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration.
Christopher Hood (www.christopherhood.net), a baby boomer and the first of his family to go to college, was raised in Birmingham, UK, and educated at the universities of York and Glasgow. He taught public administration on three continents, before becoming Professor of Government at All Souls College Oxford, Best known internationally for his work on ‘new public management’ and other developments in executive government, he has written some 28 books to date including (with Ruth Dixon) A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less? (2015). Now attached to Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, he is working with colleagues on his 29th book (on public expenditure control). Outside the public administration world, he is a member of the Gaelic Society of London.
Citation from the Award Committee:
The 2021 American Political Science Association Committee for the John Gaus Award and Lectureship is pleased to announce the recipient for this distinguished honor, Professor Christopher Hood of the University of Oxford. The award honors a “lifetime of exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration” and Professor Hood fully fits the bill.
Since his 1976 book The Limits of Administration Professor Hood has made substantive contributions to the fields of public administration and political science for five decades. There are entire fields of knowledge that would look substantively different without his work. How governments talk about administrative reform, and what political agendas are embedded in such reforms is a central theme in his books The Art of the State, and Administrative Argument. He offered an era-defining framing of a set of administrative reforms in the 1990s as the New Public Management. It is telling that in 2015, Hood returned to the topic to evaluate if waves of UK government reforms delivered the goods in A Government that Worked Better and Costs Less? Contemporary research of negativity bias and blame in government accountability processes owe much to Hood’s The Blame Game, as well as The Politics of Public Service Bargains. He led attention to the way in which governments consider and manage risk in works such as Government of Risk. In a series of journal articles, he considered the potential for performance measurement and targets to sometimes motivate performance and sometimes generate perverse responses. One measure of the scale of his impact is that his ten most cited pieces of scholarship have been cited more than 30,000 times according to Google scholar.
A persistent characteristic of Hood’s work is a willingness to take on big themes central to how government works – risk, reform, blame, performance, culture and accountability – and develop explanatory frameworks that make the application of those themes both systematic and intuitive, establishing a coherent research agenda that has benefited other scholars immeasurably. His ability to use theory in ways that clarifies rather than obscure is in no small part due to his absolute commitment to relevance. His work is embedded with real-world examples, sometimes contemporary and sometimes historical, and written to be accessible and engaging.
His lifetime of penetrating analyses of public service makes Christopher Hood richly deserving of the Gaus Award.
APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Donald Moynihan (Chair), Georgetown University; Arjen Boin, Leiden University; and Ines Mergel, University of Konstanz.