Skip to content

About the John L. Alford Case Library


5am, Wednesday 23 February 2011: Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) Chief Executive David Meates is standing in the car park outside Christchurch Hospital, a temporary triage site for the hundreds of people injured in the powerful earthquake that hit the city at 12.51 pm the day before. The death toll is steadily rising as recovery efforts continue. The hospital is a scene of purpose and activity in a setting of devastation. All buildings are still standing but all have sustained some degree of damage; 360 patients have been evacuated. Water and power have been cut off and the main service tunnel cannot function. Every aftershock (and there are many) heightens the sense of urgency and uncertainty and renews the need to assess the safety of services and buildings; every minute brings reports of new problems. ‘How can you be so calm?’ a colleague asks David Meates. He doesn’t hesitate: ‘We’ve been talking about this for years’. In 50 seconds, the earthquake has fast-forwarded Canterbury’s health system into its year 2020 scenario of constrained resources.

From Fast forward to a sustainable future for the Canterbury Health System 2015-164.1

Was the Chief Executive’s confidence assuring leadership, or audacity in crisis?

How did he respond to the systemic problems he found at the hospital when he first arrived in 2009?

In what ways, big and small, did innovation transform the hospital, and make it ready for the emergency?

What was it about his leadership style that encouraged experimentation and collaboration?

What did the Chief Executive do next?

This is one example of how ANZSOG cases put you in the room with decision-makers facing real public sector dilemmas.

The John L. Alford Case Library brings together carefully constructed ‘stories’ about public sector challenges, dilemmas, successes and failures.

All the cases are real, and every one of them enables you to ‘stand in the shoes’ of the decision-makers at their centre.

When used in executive and graduate classrooms to stimulate discussion and sharpen analysis, ANZSOG cases inspire students to apply their own experience and to give practical shape to key conceptual frameworks, and policy and management tools.

Created in 2004 to remedy the lack of public sector teaching cases relevant to Australia and New Zealand, the library is now the third-largest collection of public policy and management cases in the world, with nearly 200 cases covering a wide range of topics from all levels of government.

It offers users a regularly updated collection of catalogued cases, and is designed as a resource for both instructors using interactive teaching approaches, and for practitioners and researchers seeking authoritative accounts and analyses of important public policy and management issues. Each peer-reviewed case is expertly researched, and written lucidly in ANZSOG’s signature style. Many are accompanied by dedicated teaching notes and exhibits.

Unique among the great online case libraries of the world, the John L. Alford Case Library is an open access collection permitting case downloads free of charge. With the exception of our Teaching Notes, all material in the Case Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more information on how you can use our cases please see ‘How to use the case library’.

Our library catalogue and collection is open to everyone, so why not start browsing now?

The ANZSOG Case Program

The ANZSOG Case Program researches and produces public sector teaching cases for, and curates, the John L. Alford Case Library, and contributes to the development of resources to support interactive teaching and learning in public policy and management.

Contact us

For information on the Case Library, and to discuss new or potential cases, please contact Deputy Director Research & Advisory, Dr Patrick Brownlee at

For other information, including access to Teaching Notes, please email

Professor John L. Alford

John Alford is a Foundation Professor of Public Sector Management in the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and also in the Melbourne Business School at the University of Melbourne.

From the time of ANZSOG’s genesis in 2002, Professor Alford was instrumental in developing and leading the School’s flagship teaching programs, including as Director of the Executive Fellows Program (2003-2010) and as leader of the foundation Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) Subject ‘Delivering Public Value’ (2003-2017).

Professor Alford was a driving force behind the School’s international reputation for the highest quality executive-level instruction, and the application of case-based interactive teaching approaches. He was instrumental in creating and building the ANZSOG Case Library as the region’s only source of high quality public sector teaching cases, with a unique focus on public policy and management topics of direct relevance to Australia and New Zealand. From its inception in 2004, Professor Alford emulated the best practices of similar international case collections; assembled and nurtured a small team of world-class case writers; helped to grow the nascent ANZSOG network by sourcing topics and contributors from all of its jurisdictions; and kept a laser focus on the hallmark ANZSOG ‘case style’ that is recognized internationally for its acuity and readability. In addition, he has himself written or supervised over 100 ANZSOG cases.

Professor Alford is also an internationally recognised researcher in the areas of strategic management in the public sector, contracting and partnering, public managers’ political astuteness, and client-organisation relationships. He has authored or co-authored five books, two of which have won prestigious international awards – Engaging Public Sector Clients: From Service-Delivery to Co-Production (Palgrave Macmillan) which won the American Society for Public Administration’s Award for the Best Public Administration Book in 2011, and Rethinking Public Service Delivery: Managing with External Providers (Palgrave Macmillan), which won the award for best public management book of the year from the Public and Non-profit Division of the United States Academy of Management in 2013 – and published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

In 2007, Professor Alford was made a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

It is in recognition of his contribution to the creation and subsequent success of ANZSOG as a network school, to the leadership and fostering of innovative curriculum, to the creation and international reputation of the ANZSOG Case Library, and to international public management scholarship that the School has named the ‘John L. Alford Case Library’ in his honour.