Research Team

Public Employment Services and

Welfare Reform at the Frontline

Dr Michael McGann

Chief Investigator

I am a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Social Sciences Institute at Maynooth University. I specialise in the sociology of work and social policy on employment, with a particular focus on issues related to welfare-to-work and the marketisation of public employment services as well as ageing and employment. My current research involves a study of the governance of activation in Ireland, looking at the impact of recent marketisation reforms on how public employment services are delivered. 

Before joining Maynooth University, I was Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne for several years. I have also previously worked as a researcher with the Parliament of Victoria (Australia) and with third sector organisations in Australia. 

Recent publications

McGannM. (2021). ‘Double activation: workfare meets marketisation’. Administration, 69(2), 19–42. Available here.

McGann, M. & Murphy, M.P. (2021) ‘Introduction: the dual tracks of activation and welfare reform: Governance and conditionality.’ Administration, 69(2), 1–16. Available here

Murphy, Mary P.; McGann, M. (2021) ‘Renewing welfare through universal entitlement: lessons from Covid-19’ in The Coranvirus Crisis and the Welfare State (pp. 68-75). Social Europe Publishing in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Available here

McGann, M; Wells, T; Blomkamp, E. (2021) ‘Innovation labs and co-production in public problem solving‘. Public Management Review, 23(2): 297-316.

McGann M.;Murphy M.P.;Whelan N. (2020) ‘Workfare redux? Pandemic unemployment, labour activation and the lessons of post-crisis welfare reform in Ireland’. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 40 (9/10): 963-978. Available here

Murphy, M. and McGann, M. (2020) Reconfiguring welfare in an eco-social state: participation income and universal services. Social Europe, 29 May 2020.

Murphy, M; Whelan, N; McGann, M; and Finn, P (2020) The High Road Back to Work: Developing an Irish Public Employment Eco System for a Covid 19 Recovery Strategy. Maynooth: Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, 15 May 2020.

McGann, M; Nguyen, P; Considine, C (2020) ‘Welfare conditionality and blaming the unemployed’. Administration and Society, 52(3): 466-94

Considine, M; O’Sullivan, S; McGann, M; Nguyen, P (2020) ‘Contracting personalization by results: comparing marketization reforms in Australia and the UK‘. Public Administration, 98(4): 873-890.

Lewis, JM; McGann, M; Blomkamp (2020) ‘When design meets power: Design thinking, public sector innovation and the politics of policymaking‘. Policy and Politics, 48(1): 111-30.

Considine, M; O’Sullivan, S; McGann, M; Nguyen, P (2020) ‘Locked-in or locked-out: Can a public services market really change?‘. Social Policy Journal, 49(4): 850-871.

O’Sullivan, S; McGann, M.; Considine, M (2019) ‘The category game and its impact on street-level bureaucrats and jobseekers: an Australian case study‘. Social Policy and Society, 18(4): 631-45. 

McGann, M; Danneris, S; O’Sullivan, S (2019) ‘Introduction: rethinking welfare-to-work for the long-term unemployed‘. Social Policy and Society, 18(4): 577-82.

McGann, M; Blomkamp, E; Lewis, JM (2018) ‘The rise of public sector innovation labs: experiments in design-thinking for policy‘. Policy Sciences, 51(3): 249-67.


Dr Mary P. Murphy

Co-Investigator

I am a Senior Lecturer in Irish Politics and Society in the Department of Sociology at Maynooth University. Having graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1986 with a BA Hons in Economics and Sociology, I then worked for 15 years a as campaigner and policy analyst in a  number of national level labour market, anti poverty and equality organisations and served terms on NESF, NESC and various national policy forums. I returned to academic research in 2002 and graduated with PhD in Politics from the Department of Law and Government, Dublin City University in 2006.

In 2007 I was tenured as Lecturer in Irish Politics and Society in the Department of Sociology in Maynooth University, and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2015.  I co-co-ordinate the BA Politics and Active Citizenship, led the MA in Sociology Work, Labour Markets and Employment and co lead the Political Economy and Work Research Cluster. My research interests include public policy, labour market and social security, power and civil society, and gender. I currently lead two work packages in the H2020 funded Re InVest.   A key contributor to national debate on social policy I was a member of the National Expert Advisory group on Taxation and Social Welfare 2011-2014 and a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission 2013-2017.

Recent Publications

Murphy, M.P., and McGann, M. (2020) Renewing welfare through universal entitlement: lessons fromCovid-19. Social Europe, 24 Sep 2020.

McGann, M., Murhpy, M.P., and Whelan, N. (2020) ‘Workfare redux: pandemic unemployment, labour activation, and the lessons of post-crisis welfare reform in Ireland.’ International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy (early view),

Murphy, M. and McGann, M. (2020) Reconfiguring welfare in an eco-social state: participation income and universal services. Social Europe, 29 May 2020.

Murphy, M; Whelan, N; McGann, M; and Finn, P (2020) The High Road Back to Work: Developing an Irish Public Employment Eco System for a Covid 19 Recovery Strategy. Maynooth: Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, 15 May 2020.

Murphy, M. (2020) ‘Dual conditionality in welfare and housing for lone parents in Ireland: Change and continuity?‘. Social Policy and Administration, 54(2): 250-64. 

Murphy, M. and Hearne, R. (2019) ‘Implementing marketisation: comparing Irish activation and social housing‘. Irish Political Studies, 34(3): 444-63.

Hearne, R. & Murphy, M. (2019) ‘Capabilities and human rights in practice; the case study of participatory research on marketisation and homelessness in Dublin’ In: Capabilities and Social Policy: Concepts, measurements and application. London: Policy Press. 

Murphy, M. (2018) ‘Ode to an invisible woman: The story of qualified adults and partners in Ireland‘. Irish Journal of Sociology, 26(1): 25-45.

Hearne, R and Murphy M. (2018) ‘An absence of rights: Homeless families and social housing marketisation in Ireland‘. Administration, 66(2): 9-31.

Murphy, M. (2017) ‘Irish Flex-insecurity: The Post-crisis Reality for Vulnerable Workers in Ireland‘. Social Policy and Administration, 51(2): 308-327.

Murphy, M. (2016) ‘Low road or high road? The post-crisis trajectory of Irish activation‘. Critical Social Policy, 36(3): 432-452.

Murphy, M. and Dukelow, F. (2016) The Irish Welfare state in the 21st Century: Challenges and Changes. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 841477.

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