Shuntaro Iizuka

How Do Contemporary Government Agencies Work?
An Analysis of Survey Data

About Shuntaro Iizuka

Shuntaro Iizuka is a Resident Member at Graduate House from Tokyo, Japan. 

He is a PhD candidate with the School of Social and Political Sciences at The University of Melbourne. 

He was the recepient of the 2018 Graduate House Research Scholarship. 


Originally from Tokyo, Japan, I am currently doing my PhD studies at the School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne. Located in the field of public administration in the broader discipline of political science, I am looking at public sector reform in the case of Japan’s national government. In particular, I am exploring how government agencies are operating after experiencing extensive administrative reforms.

Firstly, I would like to briefly touch on the background of my research. Governments in democracies have been under continuous pressure to reform and modernise. This is due to the perceived failure of traditional models of the welfare state, the changing nature of democracy, financial austerity, and globalisation. Also, contemporary public sector organisations are expected to provide somewhat contradictory outputs. They are required to run themselves efficiently and effectively but, simultaneously, they are encouraged to provide highly qualified public service, which should be sufficiently supported by the relevant expertise and be responsive to democracy.

Faced with the similar societal problems and pursuant to the relevant Western cases, the Japanese government has implemented extensive administrative reforms, mimicking the Western cases to some degree via policy transfer. My project is to explore the consequences of such globally-influenced organisational and management reforms in Japan with the aim of post factum evaluation.

In doing so, I surveyed CEOs of Japanese government agencies, which covered a wide range of topics, such as autonomy and control, perceptions of the relevant reforms, and the organisational value and culture.

To make my Japanese data comparable with foreign counterparts, I replicated the questionnaire developed by an equivalent international survey network for comparative public administration. This previous global project had already surveyed approximately 20 jurisdictions which did not include Japan.

To fill in this gap, I conducted the Japanese version by adapting the global prototype questionnaire so that I could do a cross-national comparison. This is how I locate my research within the international network exploring comparative public administration.

Fortunately, for this research project of mine, I was awarded the Graduate House Research Scholarship in 2018. Thanks to this, I was able to attend the World Congress of International Political Science held in Brisbane in July 2018. This is a global political science festival biennially organised by the International Political Science Association (IPSA). I presented a paper focusing upon autonomy and control of government organisations with the data obtained through the aforementioned survey.

The feedback I gained on my research from peers will be of great benefit for the writing of my PhD thesis and other publications. This opportunity also helped me enhance my academic network and keeps me updated with the latest academic trends.

I have long been a Melbourne lover since I stayed here as a short-term exchange student at Melbourne Grammar School, a sister school of mine — Waseda High School. Thereafter, every time I visit Melbourne, the city charms me with its rich culture, diversity, openness, mixture of the old and the new, and its ongoing growth as well.

After completing my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Waseda University and serving as a think tank researcher, I was determined to move to Melbourne to pursue my PhD research. I have been so fortunate to have such a fantastic opportunity; I am all the more lucky to work with my fabulous supervisors, Professor Janine O’Flynn and Associate Professor Helen Dickinson, and to be supported by the Melbourne Research Scholarship.

Last but, of course, not least, staying at Graduate House since 2016 has enriched my PhD life in Melbourne. I am thankful to its great facilities and community for postgraduates and researchers within the geographical proximity to the University, which enables me to always enjoy being in a world-class academic community.

In closing, I would like to express my cordial gratitude again to The Graduate Union for conferring me with the 2018 Graduate House Research Scholarship.

Other Awardees from Graduate House

You can view the list evry person that has won an award in the form of a scholarship, bursary, National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF) nomination and more at the Graduate House Website.