Neil Mortimer

Reacting Experimentally in Times of Crisis; A Projected Study of Experimental Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Extending the Theory of Experimentalist Governance Within & Beyond the EU.


Neil is a doctoral researcher within the Institute for Diplomacy and Governance and his research addresses reacting experimentally in times of crisis.

Neil Mortimer is a first-year PhD candidate representing the Institute for Diplomacy & International Governance (IDIG) at Loughborough University London. Neil holds a ‘Bachelor of Arts’ degree in History & Politics (2:1, B.A.) from Nottingham Trent University (2012-2015). He then moved to the Netherlands to complete a ‘Master of Arts’ degree in European Studies (7.5, M.A.) from the University of Amsterdam (2015-2016). To top it all off, he continued to reside along the canals of

Amsterdam, finishing a ‘Master of Science’ in Public Policy & Governance (7.9, MSc) also from the University of Amsterdam (2017-2018).

Neil has developed a passion for understanding ‘New Modes of Governance’, examining their interaction across various EU policy domains (e.g., energy & climate). To distance himself from previous workings, he hopes to apply these architectures to other domains (i.e., crisis governance), evaluating interactions beyond the institutional settings of the EU, with impetus upon the wider geographical setting of ‘Europe’.

His research motivation focuses on promoting & influencing new approaches that engage people co-operatively, whilst breaking down governance procedures into smaller, simpler steps. This ‘breakdown’ assists us to question why & how policy responses vary substantially from region to region, country to country, across & between national & local levels of government.

Presently, this is reflected in the study of ‘experimentation’ in ‘times of crisis’, deciphering what role the theory of ‘Experimentalist Governance (XG)’ has in policymaking processes across Europe. We suggest that systematic ‘experimentation’ offers step-by-step solutions to escape the ‘polycrisis’, which has grown in both importance & recognition in the past decade. Neil hopes to determine the successes and/or challenges that ‘experimenting’ in the public sphere may offer, particularly when it comes to the creation of reflexive & reactive policy considering the COVID-19 pandemic.

PhD research description

Despite the well-documented diffusion of Experimentalist Governance (XG) across the EU’s institutional settings, its potential to offer solutions in ‘times of crisis’ & extensions across the wider-European space remains unclear. Experimenting with alternatives is certainly in vogue, with no ignoring it across the public sphere. Additionally, the deployment of experimental ideas appears to match together with conditions seen in the ‘polycrisis’, yet how does this play out in reality?

Despite posing ways to ‘work differently’ regarding major, global problems, we are left questioning where & how policy experiments taking place (in times of crisis) & if they are, is it methodical. Experimentation seeks to offer governance-based solutions in times of crisis, from an array of spatial dimensions, whether that is replicated within local communities or cities, provinces, or countries, or from countries to the world...

This research hopes to determine what, (if anything!) we can learn from crisis & whether experiments can work to (better) address problems that characteristically diverse & uncertain. Along these lines, we consider that individual policy experiments can extend themselves beyond short-lived practices, creating greater space for innovation & learning as they develop systematically.

PhD supervisors

Neil's research is supervised by Professor Helen Drake, Dr Tim Oliver and Dr Nicola Chelotti.

Awards, grants or scholarships received

Neil was awarded the Full Doctoral Scholarship (2020-2023).

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