Professor Brian Head


School of Political Science and International Studies
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
+61 7 334 67450


Professor Brian Head joined the University of Queensland in mid-2007 after holding senior roles in government, universities, and the non-government sector. He is the author or editor of several books and numerous articles on public management, governance, social isues and environmental policy. His major interests are evidence-based policy, complex or 'wicked' problems, program evaluation, early intervention and prevention, collaboration and consultation, public sector integrity, and leadership. He has undertaken several consultancies on program evaluation, policy review, organisational performance, and good governance processes. He has strong interests in applied research across many areas of public policy and governance, and is committed to building closer links between the research and policy sectors. His recent books include Wicked Problems in Public Policy (2022, Palgrave, open access), Reconsidering Policy (2020, Policy Press, co-authored), and Learning Policy, Doing Policy (2021, ANU Press, co-edited).

Research Interests

  • Complex wicked problems
  • Program evaluation
  • Evidence-based policy
  • Early intervention and prevention
  • Social inclusion
  • Leadership strategies
  • Collaboration and consultation
  • Integrity and accountability
  • Service delivery
  • Engaged research

Research Impacts

Professor Brian Head has provided submissions to numerous governmental policy reviews, on topics ranging from integrity and accountability, through to innovation and research impacts. He has presented inviational keynote addresses to several international conferences and workshops, including symposia organised by the OECD. He provides expert confidential advice to a range of state and federal agencies. He has been elected a Fellow of two professional associations and is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.


  • Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University College London
  • Masters (Research), Monash University


View all Publications


View all Supervision


Featured Publications


Book Chapter

  • Ball, Sarah and Head, Brian W. (2024). Behavioural insights teams in practice: nudge missions and methods on trial. Beyond nudge: advancing the state-of-the-art of behavioural public policy and administration. (pp. 108-126) edited by Benjamin Ewert, Eva Thomann and Kathrin Loer. Bristol, United Kingdom: Policy Press. doi: 10.1332/030557320X15840777045205

  • Colley, Linda, Woods, Shelley and Head, BW. (2023). Strategic public management and the role of senior executives: the case of Australia. Handbook on Strategic Public Management. (pp. 238-259) edited by Carsten Greve and Tamyko Ysa. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar.

  • Head, Brian W. (2023). Wicked Problems in Public Policy. Encyclopedia of Public Policy. (pp. 1-8) Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-90434-0_43-1

  • Head, Brian W. (2022). Coping with wicked problems in policy design. Research handbook of policy design. (pp. 155-175) Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. doi: 10.4337/9781839106606.00018

  • Head, Brian W. (2021). Policy expertise and policy markets: challenges for tackling complex problems in turbulent times. The future of the policy sciences. (pp. 121-139) edited by Anis Ben Brik and Leslie A. Pal. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. doi: 10.4337/9781800376489.00015

  • Bellamy, Jennifer, Head, Brian W. and Ross, Helen (2019). Crises and institutional change: emergence of cross-border water governance in Lake Eyre Basin, Australia. Water crises and governance: reinventing collaborative institutions in an era of uncertainty. (pp. 10-26) edited by Peter Leigh Taylor and David A. Sonnenfeld. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Bettini, Yvette and Head, Brian W. (2018). Exploring capacity for strategic policy work: water policy in Australia. Policy capacity and governance: assessing governmental competences and capabilities in theory and practice. (pp. 289-312) edited by Xun Wu, Michael Howlett and M. Ramesh. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-54675-9_13

  • Bellamy, Jennifer and Head, Brian (2018). Regionalization and regionalism: persistent challenges and new frontiers. The Routledge handbook of Australian urban and regional planning. (pp. 62-72) edited by Neil Sipe and Karen Vella. New York, NY United States: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315748054

  • Crowley, Kate and Head, Brian W. (2017). Expert advisory bodies in the policy system. Routledge handbook of comparative policy analysis. (pp. 181-198) edited by Marleen Brans, Iris Geva-May and Michael Howlett. New York, NY, United States: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315660561-12

  • Head, Brian W. (2017). Policy-relevant research: improving the value and impact of the social sciences. Social science and sustainability. (pp. 199-209) edited by Heinz Schandl and Iain Walker. Melbourne, Australia: CSIRO Publishing.

  • Bettini, Yvette, Arklay, Tracey and Head, Brian W. (2017). Understanding the policy realities of urban transitions. Urban sustainability transitions. (pp. 37-49) edited by Niki Frantzeskaki, Vanesa Castán Broto, Lars Coenen and Derk Loorbach. London, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315228389

  • Ross, Helen, Bellamy, Jennifer and Head, Brian (2016). Collaboration challenges in addressing natural resource management problems: Australian regional case studies. The challenges of collaboration in environmental governance: barriers and responses. (pp. 175-195) edited by Richard D. Margerum and Cathy J. Robinson. Cheltenham United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing.

  • Head, Brian W. and Walter, James (2015). Academic Research and Public Policy. Policy Analysis in Australia. (pp. 283-301) edited by Brian W. Head and Kate Crowley. Bristol, United Kingdom: Policy Press.

  • Head, Brian W. and O'Flynn, Janine (2015). Australia: building policy capacity for managing wicked policy problems. The international handbook of public administration and governance. (pp. 341-368) edited by Andrew Massey and Karen Johnston. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. doi: 10.4337/9781781954492.00022

  • Head, Brian (2015). Policy analysis and public sector capacity. Policy Analysis in Australia. (pp. 53-67) edited by Brian Head and Kate Crowley. Bristol, United Kingdom: Policy Press.

  • Crowley, Kate and Head, Brian (2015). Policy analysis in Australia: context, themes and challenges. Policy Analysis in Australia. (pp. 1-20) edited by Brian Head and Kate Crowley. Bristol, United Kingdom: Policy Press.

  • Head, Brian W. (2015). Policy analysis: evidence based policy-making. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. (pp. 281-287) edited by James D. Wright. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.75030-6

  • Head, Brian W. (2014). Research and its policy relevance. Handbook of research methods and applications in spatially integrated social science. (pp. 603-616) edited by Robert Stimson. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar. doi: 10.4337/9780857932976.00037

  • Head, Brian W. (2014). The collaboration solution? Factors for collaborative success. Crossing Boundaries in Public Management and Policy: The international experience. (pp. 142-157) edited by Janine O'Flynn, Deborah Blackman and John Halligan. Abingdon, Oxon, U.K.: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780203106907

  • Head, Brian W. (2013). Evidence-based policy-making for innovation. Handbook of innovation in public services. (pp. 143-156) edited by Stephen P. Osborne and Louise Brown. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar. doi: 10.4337/9781849809757

  • Wallington, Tabatha, Robinson, Cathy and Head, Brian (2012). Crisis, change and water institutions in South-east Queensland: strategies for an integrated approach. Risk and Social Theory in Environmental Management. (pp. 185-198) edited by Thomas Measham and Stewart Lockie. Melbourne Australia: CSIRO Pubishing.

  • Head, Brian (2011). Urban water institutional arrangements. Securing Australia’s Water Future. (pp. 63-65) edited by Bob Swinton and Chris Davis. North Sydney, N.S.W., Australia: Focus Publishing.

  • Head, Brian (2010). Evidence-based policy: Principles and requirements. Strengthening evidence-based policy in the Australian Federation. (pp. 13-26) Melbourne, Australia: Productivity Commission.

  • Head, Brian (2010). From knowledge transfer to knowledge sharing? Towards better links between research, policy and practice. Bridging the 'know-do' gap: Knowledge brokering to improve child wellbeing. (pp. 109-123) edited by Gabriele Bammer, Annette Michaux and Ann Sanson. Canberra, A.C.T., Australia: ANU E Press.

  • Spearritt, Peter and Head, Brian (2010). Water politics. A climate for growth. (pp. 88-107) edited by Brendan Gleeson and Wendy Steele. St Lucia, Qld, Australia: University of Queensland Press.

  • Head, B.W. (2009). Adaptation to climate change: The evolution of policy and program ideas in Australia. Climate Change in Regional Australia: Social Learning and Adaptation. (pp. 14-29) edited by Martin, J., Rogers, M. and Winter, C.. Ballarat, Australia: VURRN Press Inc.

  • Head, B. W. (2009). From Government to Governance: explaining and assessing new approaches to NRM. Contested Country: Local and Regional Natural Resources Management in Australia. (pp. 15-28) edited by Lane, M. B., Robinson, C. and Taylor, B.. Melbourne Australia: CSIRO Publishing.

  • Head, B.W. and Stanley, F.J. (2009). The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth. Challenges in Adolescent Health: An Australian Perspective. (pp. 265-273) edited by Bennett, D., Towns, S., Elliott, E. and Merrick, J.. New York , U. S. A.: Nova Publishers.

  • Brown, A. J. and Head, Brian W. (2008). Consequences, Capacity and Coherence: An Overall Approach to Integrity System Assessment. Promoting Integrity:Evaluating and Improving Public Institutions. (pp. 285-306) edited by B. W. Head, A. J. Brown and C. Connors. Surrey, U.K.: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

  • Brown, A. J., Head, Brian W. and Connors, Carmel (2008). Introduction: Integrity systems and democratic accountability. Promoting integrity: Evaluating and improving public institutions. (pp. 3-12) edited by Brian W. Head, A.J. Brown and Carmel Connors. Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate Publishing.

  • Head, B.W. (2008). Promoting Integrity: Trends and Prospects. Promoting Integrity: Evaluating and Improving Public Institutions. (pp. 307-317) edited by Head, B.W., Brown, A.J. and Connors, C.. The United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

  • Head, Brian (2007). Taking subsidiarity seriously: What role for the States?. Federalism and regionalism in Australia: New approaches, new institutions?. (pp. 155-170) edited by A. J. Brown and Jennifer Bellamy. Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press.

  • Head, Brian (2007). The public service and government communication: Pressures and dilemmas. Government communication in Australia. (pp. 36-50) edited by Sally Young. Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.

  • Head, Brian W. (2005). Governance. Ideas and influence: Social science and public policy in Australia. (pp. 44-63) edited by Peter Saunders and James Walker. Sydney, Australia: University of Sydney Press.

  • Head, Brian, Wanna, John and Williams, Paul (2005). Leaders and the leadership challenge. Yes, Premier : Labor leadership in Australia's states and territories. (pp. 253-264) edited by John Wanna and Paul Williams. Sydney, Australia: University of NSW.

  • Head, Brian W. (2005). Participation or co-governance?: Challenges for regional natural resource management. Participation and governance in regional development: Global trends in an Australian context. (pp. 137-154) edited by Robyn Eversole and John Martin. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

  • Head, Brian (2004). Regional NRM planning arrangements: Evaluating through the state lens. Regional natural resource management planning: The challenges of evaluation as seen through different lenses. (pp. 19-26) edited by Jennifer Bellamy. Brisbane, Australia: CSIRO; Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Note for students: Professor Brian Head is not currently available to take on new students.

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision