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John Alford

Honorary Professorial Fellow

The Melbourne School of Government and ANZSOG

Faculty: Expert contributors


Areas of expertise

  • Collaboration and co-production
  • Public budgeting
  • Public management
  • Public service delivery

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Professor John Alford is Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne School of Government. John retired from his role as Professor of Public Sector Management at ANZSOG and at the Melbourne Business School (MBS), University of Melbourne in 2017.

In his long career as Foundation Professor at ANZSOG from 2003, Professor Alford has been a key figure in building the School’s high teaching quality, its focus on practically relevant research and its collaborative relationships with partner government and universities. His leadership of teaching development was important, not least because of the extensive collection of teach cases he oversaw – no numbering almost 200. In recognition of this contribution, ANZSOG has named its case library after him, as the John L Alford Case Library.

Professor Alford 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 the ANZSOG Masters subject Delivering Public Value, Professor Alford taught 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 contribution to  research has also been noteworthy, with over 55 refereed publications in a wide range of  international journals, focusing on strategic management in the public sector, wicked problems, public value and public managers’ political astuteness. In particular, his work on client co-production of public services has received extensive recognition. The leading journal Public Administration Review described him as ‘arguably the most authoritative co-production scholar since Elinor Ostrom’ (2018). He won the Award in 2011 for Best Public Administration Book of the year form the American Society for Public Administration: Engaging Public Sector Clients: From Service Delivery to Co-production (Palgrave Macmillan). Seven other awards include his 2014 book, with Janine O’Flynn: Rethinking Public Service Delivery: Managing with External Providers, Palgrave Macmillan, which was judged Best Public Management book of the year by the Academy of Management. John was twice winner of the Richardson Award for the best article in the Australian Journal of Public Administration.

Professor Alford 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.

Selected publications

Di Francesco, M. and Alford, J. (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, doi 10.1080/14719037.2015.1111659.
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.