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Measuring and managing what counts - implementing the wellbeing approach to government and governance (Advert Reference: RDF22/BL/LHRM/FRENCH)

   Faculty of Business and Law

  Dr Max French,  Sunday, December 04, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Governments, international organisations and social alliances are increasingly adopting high-level ‘wellbeing’ frameworks to catalyse transitions toward sustainable development (Sachs 2012), collective wellbeing (Stiglitz 2019; Costanza et al. 2021) and other stretching social missions. Making these transitions requires not only developing new measures and metrics, but also using these to spur policy and behaviour change cross a broad range of stakeholders (French and Mollinger-Sabha 2021; French and Wallace 2022).

The devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have each developed internationally recognised ‘Wellbeing Frameworks’, however implementation has been patchy (Wallace 2019; French and Wallace 2022; Finance and Public Administration Committee 2022). In response to developing concerns of an ‘implementation gap’ more broadly (e.g. Biermann et al. 2022), this PhD will deliver practical advice to policymakers on the barriers to purposeful use of wellbeing frameworks and how these might be overcome. Taking a public administration disciplinary perspective, the PhD will tackle the question, ‘what administrative and governance approaches best support the implementation of wellbeing approaches?’.

This PhD is a research partnership with the Carnegie UK Trust and Scottish Government colleagues (a leading practitioner through its National Performance Framework) offering the successful candidate the rare opportunity to link directly with practice. The candidate will join a growing research area at Northumbria University and enjoy close contact with UK and international policy partners.

For an informal chat about this opportunity, or for any further queries, please get in touch at

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/BL/LHRM/FRENCH) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 4th December 2022

Start Date: 1 March 2023

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Principal Supervisor – Max French

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2022/23 full-time study this is £17,668 per year) and full tuition fees. UK candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £10,600 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for part-time applicants.


Biermann, F., Hickmann, T., Sénit, C.-A., Beisheim, M., Bernstein, S., Chasek, P., Grob, L., Kim, R. E., Kotzé, L. J., Nilsson, M., Ordóñez Llanos, A., Okereke, C., Pradhan, P., Raven, R., Sun, Y., Vijge, M. J., van Vuuren, D., & Wicke, B. (2022). Scientific evidence on the political impact of the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature Sustainability, 5(9), Article 9.
Costanza, R., Fioramonti, L., Kubiszewski, I., Markowitz, D., Orr, C., Trebeck, K., & Wallis, S. (2020). Creating a Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) to motivate and facilitate the transition. In Sustainable Wellbeing Futures. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Finance and Public Administration Committee. (2022). Report on the National Performance Framework: Ambitions into Action, 8th Report, 2022 (Session 6)
(SP Paper 231). The Scottish Parliament.
French, M., & Mollinger-Sahba, A. (2021). Making performance management relevant in complex and inter-institutional contexts: Using outcomes as performance attractors. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 34(3),
French, M., & Wallace, J. (2022). Performance management for systemic problems: The enabling role of soft power.
Sachs, J. D. (2012). From millennium development goals to sustainable development goals. The Lancet, 379(9832), 2206–2211.
Stiglitz, J. E. (2019). Measuring what counts: The global movement for well-being. The New Press.

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