Telling Governance Stories: From Lecturer, to Minister, and Back!
by Leighton Andrews, Cardiff Business School
Professor Leighton Andrews, from Cardiff University, Wales, UK, is a former Minister for Public Services and Minister for Education and Skills in the Welsh Government, the executive body accountable to the new legislature of the National Assembly for Wales established in 1999. In this article he explores the issues of academic engagement with the lived experience of ministerial life, particularly in respect of driving purposeful change in public services. He draws attention to the value of narrative as a research resource, including in the form of autobiography and auto-ethnography, linking this to emergent literature on political leadership and the training of ministers and executive politicians. Having worked with Sir Michael Barber, former head of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Delivery Unit, while in government, he also draws on emerging work on public service delivery and the role of national governments within that. Andrews calls for greater attention to the role of ministers as system leaders of specific domains of public service, and the formal and informal networks within which they operate, and urges academic journals to give more space to the critical reflections of practitioners.