Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr Jeffares is interested in supervising PhD projects that explore how digital technologies and AI are shaping the interaction between public servant and citizen. He welcomes projects proposing interpretive, creative methods as well as Q methodology.


Research activity per year

Personal profile


PhD, Public Policy, University of Birmingham, 2008

BSc (hons) Public Policy, Government and Mananagement, 2002


Stephen Jeffares is internationally known for his development of systematic methods to interpret complex public policy debate. His most recent work concerns the inter-subjectivities surrounding the changing shape of frontline work through the application of digital and AI related technologies.


Stephen’s research explores the interplay of policy ideas and public servant subjectivities. He deploys innovative, systematic and interpretive methods to identify and analyse the inter-subjectivity that surrounds current policy ideas.


Stephen is best known for his use of Q-methodology in public policy and administration research, in particular techniques for mapping the inter connections of subjectivities held by public servants for their policy initiatives and how this shapes the implementation and longevity of such initiatives. His approach pays particular attention to online sentiment including reviews and social media. Recent work considers how policy actors are reacting to ideas of AI, service design and product management.


Stephen’s approach has contributed to theory in a number of book project: to theories of collaboration and urban governance (Hybrid Governance in European Cities, with Chris Skelcher and Helen Sullivan, 2013), to political discourse theory and ideational approaches (Interpreting Hashtag Politics, 2014) and theories of digital government (The Virtual Public Servant, 2021).


Before joining the School of Government as lecturer in 2011, Stephen was Research Associate at the Centre for Cities, UWE Bristol and Roberts Research Fellow, College of Social Science. He has been visiting lecturer at University of Melbourne and visiting researcher at the Health Media Collaboratory, UIC Chicago.  He has been invited guest lectures at University of Amsterdam, University of Vienna, University of Lyon, Kent State University and University College London.


Stephen is currently Programme Leader of the Public Management and Leadership Higher Apprenticeship. He has previously served as Deputy Director for Research (Methodology) College of Social Science, Director of Post-Graduate Research, Institute of Local Government Studies.  


Stephen has served on the Editorial Boards of Public Management Review, Operant Subjectivity and the editorial team of Local Government Studies. He is regularly peer-reviews for funders and leading academic journals. He has examined PhDs in the UK, Norway and Australia.

Research interests

  • Policy ideas
  • Discourse theory
  • Q methodology
  • Frontline public service
  • Digital Government
  • Product Management

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • JS Local government Municipal government


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