Department of Political Science


Dr Dan Honig

Associate Professor of Public Policy
Room: 3.02, 31 Tavistock Square
Telephone: 0203 108 1877
Email: dan.honig@ucl.ac.uk


I joined UCL in 2021. I am a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development; a fellow of Harvard’s Building State Capability Programme, Johns Hopkins SAIS’ Foreign Policy Institute, and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)’ MHRC; an SNF Agora Faculty Affiliate; a member of the Scholars Strategy Network; and on the editorial board of the Journal of Public Policy. I have had the impact of my work recognised in a variety of fora, including lists of the 100 most influential academics in government (2021) and 50 most influential researchers shaping 21st century politicians (2022). If you’re a public servant or leader and believe my work might be of benefit to your team or agency, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

From 2015 to 2021, I was an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS, and have also previously held visiting appointments at Thammasat University (Bangkok)’s Department of Economics, Leiden University (Netherlands)’s Institute of Political Science, and the West Africa Research Center in Dakar. Outside the academy, I was special assistant, then advisor, to successive Ministers of Finance (Liberia); ran a local nonprofit focused on helping post-conflict youth realise the power of their own ideas through agricultural entrepreneurship (East Timor); and have worked for a number of local and international NGOs. I have lived, worked, and/or done research in Bangladesh, East Timor, India, Israel, Liberia, The Netherlands, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Thailand, the UK, and the USA. A proud Detroiter, I hold a BA from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), am a “Woo” (alum of Princeton’s SPIA, despite receiving no degree; exited to take employment with the Sirleaf administration in Liberia), and hold a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.


My research focuses on the relationship between management practice and organisational structure in delivering welfare-improving services, with a particular focus on the links between citizen voice, bureaucratic motivation, agency autonomy, and performance. I am currently completing a book manuscript (under contract, Oxford University Press) entitled Mission Driven Bureaucrats, focused on how best to attract, retain, and cultivate mission-oriented motivation in public servants worldwide.

Beginning in mid-2023, I am the Principal Investigator on Relational State Capacity, an ERC-funded (five years, 1.5 million Euros) exploration of state capacity which argues that we need to move beyond simply seeing state capacity as the technical ability of the state to “make” or “deliver” things. Public welfare improvement often involves not just technical, but also social, infrastructure (e.g. developing the best COVID vaccines or contact tracing system will not lead to desired public health outcomes without citizens taking vaccines or responding accurately to contact tracers). I argue we will better be able to understand the state’s capacity if we conceive of capacity as in part a function of the relationship (and relational contract) between citizens and state agents.

Selected publications

Journal articles

Other publications

View a full list of publications on my website.


At UCL I have in the past taught ‘Improving Public Policy Implementation’ (POLS0096), ‘International Public Policy’ (PUBL0090), and ‘International Organisations’ (PUBL0089). I will not be teaching any classes in this academic year due to a buyout from my ERC grant.