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Visiting Fellows

William Solesbury

Visiting Senior Research Fellow


William Solesbury is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Political Economy at King's College London. He and Ruth Levitt are undertaking research into policy ‘tsars’ and the influence of expertise on policy development in UK government.

William works as an independent consultant, researcher and trainer and specialises in the part played by evidence, including research evidence, in the construction of public policy. Much of his recent work has been directed to helping university and other researchers find ways of improving the utility and applicability of their work, and encouraging public agencies to make better use of research in their policy work. He has run a number of research projects at the interface of knowledge and action, but has also worked directly with researchers and policy-makers as a consultant and trainer. His experience is, then, both theoretical and practical. William has published extensively with both academic journal articles and free-standing research reports. He has also published a book World Cities, City Worlds: Explorations with metaphors, icons and perspectives (Matador, 2013).

He began his career as a town planner in local government in the UK and Germany before moving to work in Whitehall, where he was involved in the funding, management and application of research at the then Department of the Environment. From 1990 to 1995 he was Secretary to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). He has held Visiting Fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley and at Nuffield College, Oxford.

Selected Publications:

William Solesbury, World Cities, City Worlds: Explorations with metaphors, icons and perspectives, Matador, Leicester, 2013

Ruth Levitt and William Solesbury, written evidence submitted to Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee for its inquiry into Better Public Appointments: review of the Public Appointments process (The Grimstone Review), King's College London, 2016;
Ruth  Levitt and William Solesbury, Policy tsars: here to stay but more transparency needed, King’s College London, 2012; 

Ruth Levitt and William Solesbury, Debate: Tsars – are they the ‘experts’ now?’ Public Money and Management, January 2012

Ruth Levitt, Steve Martin, Sandra Nutley, William Solesbury, Evidence for accountability: using evidence in the audit, inspection and scrutiny of UK government, Nuffield Foundation, 2010. 

Ruth Levitt and William Solesbury, Evidence-informed policy: what difference do outsiders in Whitehall make? ESRC UK Centre for Evidence Based Policy and Practice, Working Paper 23, 2005. 

William Solesbury, Sustainable Livelihoods: a case study of the evolution of DfID policy, in ed Julius Court et al, Bridging Research and Policy in Development: Evidence and the Change Process, ITDG publishing, 2005
Annette Boaz and William Solesbury, Strategy and Politics: The Example of the United Kingdom,  in eds Thomas Fischet et al, The Strategy of Politics: Results of a Comparative Study, Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2007
William Solesbury, Evidence-based policy: Whence It Came and Where It’s Going, Working Paper no 1, ESRC UK Centre for Evidence Based Policy and Practice, Queen Mary, University of London, 2001
William Solesbury, Reframing Urban Policy, Policy and Politics, 21, 1, 1993

William Solesbury, The Dilemmas of Inner City Policy, Public Administration, Winter 1986

William Solesbury, Strategic Planning: Metaphor or Method? Policy and Politics, 9, 4, 1981

William Solesbury, The Environmental Agenda, Public Administration, Winter 1976

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