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Professor Peter John

Peter JohnProfessor of Public Policy

Postal Address

Department of Political Economy
King’s College London
Strand Campus
Bush House (North East Wing)
30 Aldwych
London WC2B 4BG





Room: 9.07 Bush House (North East Wing)


Phone: 44 7780 983928

Twitter: @peterjohn10

Office Hours: Tuesdays 10-11 or by appointment


Peter John was Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University College London from 2011 until 2107. Previously he held appointments at the University of Manchester, Birkbeck, University of Southampton, and University of Keele. He has a DPhil from the University of Oxford and his first main job was as a Research Fellow at the Policy Studies Institute.


British Politics

Comparing Political Systems

Behavioural Public Policy

The Political Economy of Public Policy


Peter John is known for his work on agenda-setting, local politics, behavioral interventions, and randomized controlled trials.

He is author of Analyzing Public Policy (2012), which reviews the main theories of public policy and the policy process. He has carried out empirical work on agenda-setting to find out why governments focus on particular policies, which is represented in the book, Policy Agendas in British Politics (Palgrave, 2013), co-authored with Anthony Bertelli, William Jennings, and Shaun Bevan. With Anthony Bertelli, he developed public policy investment as an approach to understanding decision-making, which was published as Public Policy Investment: Priority-Setting and Conditional Representation in British Statecraft (Oxford University Press, 2013).

He is interested in how best to involve citizens in public policy and management, often deploying behavioural interventions.  He tests many of these interventions with randomized controlled trials. Some of these trials appeared in Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think: Experimenting with Ways to Change Civic Behaviour (Bloomsbury, 2011). Practical issues with the design of experiments are covered in Field Experiments in Political Science and Public Policy (Routledge, 2017).  Experiments are also used to examine the impact of social media and politics in Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action (Princeton University Press, 2015), with Helen Margetts, Scott Hale and Taha Yasseri.

A more general approach to the use of the tools of government to achieve policy change is contained in his Making Policy Work (Routledge, 2011).  His current book, to be published in 2018, is a critical review of the use of behavioral public policies, called How Far to Nudge: Assessing Behavioural Public Policy (Edward Elgar).

Peter John has had a long interest in local politics and public management, again focusing on citizen choices.  Such work culminated in his book with Keith Dowding, Exits, Voices and Social Investment: Citizens’ Reaction to Public Services, Cambridge University Press, 2012. He is currently working with Oliver James at the University of Exeter on a project testing exit and voice with experiments.

Recent publications

Theories of policy change and variation reconsidered: a prospectus for the political economy of public policy" Policy Sciences, early view,

A field experiment: testing the potential of norms for achieving behavior change in English parishes, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, with Julie Van de Vyer, early view, doi: 10.1111/jasp.12443

Transparency at the parish pump: A field experiment to measure the effectiveness of Freedom of Information requests, Journal of Public Management Research and Theory, 27 (3) (2017): 485-500, with Ben Worthy and Matia Vannoni

The effect of social information on volunteering for non-profit organizations, with Alice Moseley, Oliver James, Liz Richardson, Matt Ryan, and Gerry Stoker, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, early view.

Nudges that promote channel shift: a randomized evaluation of reminders for disability badges, Internet and Policy, 9 (2): 168–183, with Toby Blume,

Finding exits and voices: Albert Hirschman’s contribution to the study of public services, International Public Management Journal, 20 (3)(2017): 512-529. 2016

Parties are no civic charities: campaigns, demobilization, and the changing composition of the electorate, with Florian Foos, Political Science Research Methods, early view.

Spanning exit and voice: Albert Hirschman’s contribution to political science, Research on the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, 34B, 175-196, special issue on Hirschman edited by Marina Bianchi and Maurizio Franzini. 2015

Targeting voter registration with incentives: A randomized controlled trial of a lottery in a London borough, Electoral Studies, 40: 170-175, with Elizabeth MacDonald and Michael Sanders.

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