Elizabeth Eppel

Elizabeth Eppel profile picture

Research Fellow School of Government


  • BSc; Dip Ed (University of Sydney)
  • M Ed Admin. Hons (Massey University)
  • PhD (VUW)

Research Interests

  • Application of complexity theory to public policy and public administration and uses of complexity theory in policy processes; complexity in the implementation public services
  • Collaborative governance; with a focus Digital government, governance and public engagement; water governance and other natural resources


Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies.

Co-ordinator for GOVT562, the Master Research project and doctoral student supervision. Member of the Editorial Board for the journal Information Polity. Government and Democracy in the Information Age. IOS Press and peer reviewer for other journals. Elizabeth was previously a senior public servant with 12 years’ experience at deputy secretary level in the Ministry of Education, and a secondary school science teacher.


  • Eppel, E., & Rhodes, M. (2017). Complexity theory and public management: A ‘becoming’ field. Public Management Review. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14719037.2017.1364414
  • Gear, C., Eppel, E., & Kaziol-McLain, J. (2017 ). Utilizing complexity theory to explore sustainable responses to intimate partner violence in health care. Public Management Review. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14719037.2017.1364407
  • Starkey, L., & Eppel, E. (2017). Digital data in New Zealand schools: Policy reform and school leadership. Educational Management Administration & Leadership. doi:10.1177/1741143217745881
  • Eppel, E (2017) Towards better understanding the mechanisms which create sustainable public services organizations and systems: Insights from freshwater governance in New Zealand. Emergence: Complexity and Organisation, 18(3-4). doi:https://journal.emergentpublications.com/article/towards-better-understanding-the-mechanisms-which-create-sustainable-public-services-organisations-and-systems/
  • Eppel, E. (2017). Complexity thinking in public administration’s theories-in-use. Public Management Review, 19(6), 845-861. doi: 10.1080/14719037.2016.1235721
  • Eppel, E. (forthcoming). Complexity thinking in public administration’s theories-in-use. Public Management Review.
  • Lips, M., & Eppel, E. (2016).Understanding and explaining online personal information-sharing behaviours of New Zealanders: A new taxonomy. Information, Communication and Society. DOI:10.1080/1369118X.2016.1184697.
  • Eppel, E., & Lips, M. (2016).Unpacking the black box of successful ICT-enabled service transformation: How to join up the vertical, the horizontal and the technical. Public Money and Management, 36(1), 39-46.
  • Eppel, E. (2015). Canterbury Water Management Strategy: ‘A better way?’ Policy Quarterly, 11(4), 49-57.
  • Eppel, E. (2014). Implementing public sector reform: A complexity theory informed approach. In J. W. Meek & K. Marshall (Eds.), Administrative strategies for complex governance systems: Challenges of making public administration and complexity theory work—COMPACT II. Litchfield Park, AZ: Emergent Publications.
  • Eppel, E. (2014). Improving New Zealand water governance: Challenges and recommendations. Policy Quarterly, 10(3), 66-75.
  • Eppel, E., Gill, D., Lips, A. M. B., & Ryan, B. (2013). The cross-organisation collaboration solution? Conditions, roles and dynamics in New Zealand. In J. O'Flynn, D. Blackman & J. Halligan (Eds.), Crossing boundaries in public management and policy: The international experience. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Eppel, E. (2012). The application of a complexity analytical lens to explain and understand public policy processes. In L. Gerrits & P. Marks. COMPACT: Challenges of making public administration and complexity theory work (pp. 174-192): Litchfield Park, AZ: ISCE.
  • Eppel, E. (2012). What does it take to make surprises less surprising? The contribution of complexity theory to anticipation in public management. Public Management Review, 14(7) 881-902.
  • Eppel, E., & Wolf, A. (2012). Implementing Better Public Services. Policy Quarterly 8(3), 41-48.
  • Lips, A. M. B., O'Neill, R., & Eppel, E. (2011). Cross-agency collaboration in New Zealand: An empirical study of information sharing practices, barriers and enablers in managing for shared social outcomes. International Journal of Public Administration, 34, 255-266.
  • Eppel, E., Matheson, A., & Walton, M. (2011). Applying complexity theory to New Zealand public policy: Principles for practice.Policy Quarterly, 7(1), 48–55.
  • Ryan, B., Gill, D., Eppel, E., & Lips, M. (2008). Managing for joint outcomes; Connecting up the horizontal and the vertical. Policy Quarterly, 4(3), 14–21.
  • Gill, D., Eppel, E., Lips, M., & Ryan, B. (2007). Managing for outcomes - the breakthrough from the front line. Policy Quarterly, 3(4), 39–43.

Recent conference papers

  • Allen, B., & Eppel, E. (2017). The New Zealand Performance Improvement Framework – Strategic Conversation, Organisational Learning or Compliance Tool? Paper presented at the 21st International Research Society for Public Management. 19-21 April 2017, Budapest, Hungary.
  • Allen, B., Berman, E. M., Cantal, C., Eppel, E., Jackson, B., Lofgren, K., . . . Plimmer, G. (2017). Independent Review of the Performance Improvement Framework. In. Wellington: State Services Commission http://www.ssc.govt.nz/performance-improvement-framework
  • Eppel, E. (2016). Towards better understanding of the mechanisms which create sustainable public services and public service organisations: Insights from New Zealand's freshwater management. Paper presented at the 20th IRSPM Conference: Collaborative, globalised, interdisciplinary, 13-15 April, 2016. Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.