Research Director

Professor Jenny Lewis

Professor Jenny Lewis, Research Director currently leads this theme. Jenny is Professor of Public Policy and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. She is an expert in public policy and governance, and has published widely in international journals on governance, policy influence, and the policy process, and is the author of four books. Her research has been internationally recognised with American, European and Australian research prizes.


Theme description

This theme addresses three key questions:

  • How do we design appropriate governing institutions?
  • How do we improve policy and service effectiveness?
  • How do we develop effective regulation?

Governing institutions at all levels face challenges of legitimacy, accountability and consent. Within nation-states governments are challenged to match public expectations with preparedness to fund public policies and services. Institutions at multiple levels face questions of their fitness for purpose in a context of shifting power relations and rising expectations for strong connectedness to citizens and communities.

Our research draws on political, legal, and economic frameworks to overcome these challenges by improving institutional design, mechanism design, performance and regulation. Issues currently under investigation in this theme include:

  • The design of institutions that are appropriate to contemporary governing conditions and are able to deal with emerging governance problems (eg renewing structures of federalism, and building new multi-sector partnerships)
  • Improving governance and policy performance in complex policy areas with multiple and conflicting objectives and numerous actors (eg climate change, financial reform, indigenous policy)
  • Creating better mechanisms for measuring performance in contested policy environments (eg health, education)
  • Building the innovation capacity of governments and public services in public policy and public service design (eg social care, work, housing)
  • The fitness for purpose of key national, regional, and international institutions
  • The legal, political and economic issues associated with multiple and overlapping regulatory arrangements, including the interactions between public and private regulatory regimes

Related research projects

Read our scoping paper

Governance and performance scoping paper (260kb pdf)