Margot Schwass

Margot Schwass
  • Category: Research staff
  • Job Title: Case Writer and Researcher
  • Organisation: ANZSOG
  • Suburb/Town: Wellington
  • Country: New Zealand
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Dr Margot Schwass is ANZSOG’s Case Writer and Researcher in Wellington, based part-time in the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). She undertakes commissioned case research and writing, and has a senior editorial role across the entire case program.

Margot has significant case-writing experience and is a longstanding freelance contributor to the ANZSOG Case Library. She has produced some of the library’s most popular cases on public policy and management in New Zealand, as well as writing some of our first Pacific cases.

Alongside her role with ANZSOG, Margot works as a freelance writer, editor and teacher. Over the past twenty-five years, she has undertaken projects for New Zealand government agencies (including Treasury, the Bioethics Council, and the Ministries for Education and the Environment), published three non-fiction books and provided editorial and research services to publishers in New Zealand and elsewhere. She is also a partner in Words@Work, a writing training business which works with decision-makers, analysts and other public sector professionals for whom high-level writing skills are essential. Margot holds a PhD in New Zealand literature from VUW, and is currently working on a book based on her thesis (to be published by Victoria University Press in 2018).

Areas of expertise

  • Case-writing and research
  • Interviewing
  • Editing (structural and copy-editing)
  • Reviewing and critiquing work-in-progress: cases, reports, academic papers, book chapters etc.
  • Writing training and advice: how to write about complex topics for non-experts, writing for multiple audiences, understanding the link between good thinking and clear writing, sound document structure, how to write clear and compelling prose without compromising accuracy

Selected publications

ANZSOG cases

  • Bolt from the blue: the demise of Vanuatu's Ministry of Youth Development (2016)
  • A new direction for Inland Revenue in Solomon Islands (2016)
  • A new future for New Zealand’s building industry (2012)
  • A code of conduct for New Zealand Police (2011)
  • Leadership and innovation in New Zealand’s mental health system (2009)
  • NZAID: a semi-autonomous body is born (2009)
  • Offering help: the Ministry of Social Development and Marlborough’s viticulture industry (2007)
  • From transactions to outcomes: the Ministry of Social Development (with Janet Tyson, 2007)
  • Responding to a call for help: coordinated case management in Papakura (2007)
  • LINZ and the development of Landonline (2006)
  • GoProcure: public sector electronic procurement (2005)

Other cases

  • Rail transport in New Zealand (with Dave Heatley, 2014). Originally commissioned by the APEC Policy Support Unit, Singapore and subsequently published as a chapter in Priorities and Pathways in Services Reform, ed. Christopher Findlay, World Scientific Studies in International Economics, Vol. 25 (World Scientific Publishing: Singapore, 2014)
  • Treasury’s Better Public Services case study series, profiling innovation in the state sector (2011)


  • Chapman, R., Boston, J. and Schwass, M (eds). Confronting Climate Change: Critical Issues for New Zealand. Victoria University Press, Wellington: 2006
  • Schwass, M. Last Words: Approaches to Death in New Zealand’s Cultures and Faiths. Bridget Williams Books, Wellington: 2005
  • Richards, T., Rose, J. and Schwass, M. New Zealand Abroad: The Story of VSA’s Work in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Bridget Williams Books, Wellington: 2002 


  • Writer/editor of public discussion reports for Toi te Taiao: New Zealand Bioethics Council: The cultural, ethical and spiritual aspects of pre-birth testing (2008) and Animal-to-human transplantation (2005).
  • Writer/editor of Ministry for the Environment discussion documents and reports on the Resource Management Act (2009), fresh water management (2004) and the value of urban design (2005).
  • Report-writer for the Ministerial Inquiry into the Civil Aviation Authority (1998)