Professor John Alford

Professor of Public Sector Management ANZSOG/MBS
Postal address: PO Box 230
Suburb: Carlton South
State: Victoria
Postcode: 3053
Country: Australia
Phone: +61 (03) 8344 1975
Email: j.alford | at |

Areas of expertise

  • Public management
  • Client-organisation relationships
  • Inter-organisational relationships
  • Co-production
  • Public value


John Alford is Professor of Public Sector Management at ANZSOG and at the Melbourne Business School (MBS), University of Melbourne. He joined MBS as a lecturer in 1988, having previously been a manager in the Victorian Government and a lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. In 2007, he was made a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

As well as leading ANZSOG Masters subject Delivering Public Value, John teaches in ANZSOG executive programs for public sector managers. From 2003 to 2010, he directed the Executive Fellows Program. He has taught courses and workshops at 28 universities in Australia, New Zealand, North America, the UK, Europe and Asia.

His research, on which he has published widely in leading international journals, focuses on strategic management in the public sector, contracting and partnering, public managers’ political astuteness, wicked problems, and client-organisation relationships. Two of his books have won international awards:

- Engaging Public Sector Clients: From Service-Delivery to Co-Production (Palgrave Macmillan) won the American Society for Public Administration’s Award for the Best Public Administration Book in 2011. It is regarded as a landmark work in the literature on co-production of public services.

- Rethinking Public Service Delivery: Managing with External Providers, co-authored with Janine O'Flynn (Palgrave Macmillan), won the award for best public management book of the year from the Public and Non-profit Division of the Academy of Management, the leading US professional institute in the field. It has attracted international praise from both scholars and practicing managers.

He has also written or supervised over 100 teaching cases set in government organisations. John has been a Visiting Fellow in the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, and a Visiting Professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. He is a member of the editorial board of the American Review of Public Administration, Public Management Review, and the Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation. He gained his MBA and PhD from the University of Melbourne.

ANZSOG programs

Professor Alford currently teaches in the following ANZSOG courses:

Selected publications

  • Di Francesco, M. and Alford, J. (forthcoming 2016) Balancing Control and Flexibility in Public Budgeting: A New Role for Rule Variability. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Alford, J. (2015) Co-production, Interdependence and Publicness: Extending Public Service Dominant Logic. Public Management Review, early online.
  • Alford, J. (2015) Weighing up the public value of alternative methods of providing public services: Towards a contingency framework. In J. Bryson, B. Crosby and L. Bloomberg (eds), Valuing Public Value. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
  • Alford, J., Hartley, J. and Hughes, O. (2015) Political astuteness as a means of discerning and creating public value. In J. Bryson, B. Crosby and L. Bloomberg (eds), Valuing Public Value. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
  • Hartley, J., Alford, J., Hughes, O. and Yates, S. (2015) Public value and political astuteness in the work of public managers: The art of the possible. Public Administration, 93(1): 195-211.
  • Alford, J. (2014) The multiple facets of co-production: Building on the work of Elinor Ostrom. Public Management Review, 16(3): 299-316.
  • Alford, J. and Yates, S. (2014) Mapping Public Value Processes. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 27(4): 334-352.
  • Alford, J. and Brock, J. (2014) Interactive education in public administration (1): The role of teaching ‘objects’. Teaching Public Administration, 32(2): 144-157.
  • Alford, J. and Brock, J. (2014) Interactive education in public administration (2): Strategies for teachers’. Teaching Public Administration, 33(1): 6-21.
  • Head, B. and Alford, J. (2014) Wicked Problems: Implications for Public Policy and Management. Administration and Society, 47(6): 711-739.
  • Alford, J. (2013) Engaging Citizens in Co-producing Service Outcomes. in E. Lindquist, S. Vincent and J. Wanna (eds), Putting Citizens First: Service Delivery and Engagement for the 21st Century. Canberra: ANU Press.
  • Hartley, J., Alford,  J., Hughes O. and Yates, S. (2013) Leading with Political Astuteness: A Study of Public Managers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Melbourne: ANZSOG and CMI.
  • Alford, J. and O’Flynn, J. (2012) Rethinking Public Service Delivery: Managing with External Providers, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Karre, P., Alford, J., van der Steen, M. and van Twist, M. (2012) Whole of Government in Theory and Practice: An exploratory Account of how Australian and Dutch governments deal with wicked problems in an integrated way, Approaches in the Netherlands and Australia. In M. Fenger and V. Bekkers (eds), Between Fragmentation and Interconnectivity: Public Governance and the Search for Connective Capacity. Amsterdam: IOS Press.
  • Alford, J. (2011) Public value from co-production by clients. In J. Benington & M. Moore (eds.), Public value: theory and practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Alford, J. (2009) Engaging public sector clients: from service delivery to co-production, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.