Fellow at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute, Belgium

About me

I am a Fellow at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute, Belgium. 

I research and analyse the changing nature of political executives. My principal focus centres on exploring the institutional development of ministers’ offices and the rise of political advisers wedged between the nexus of politics and administration. Through my work on an international comparative politics project, I have gained specialised knowledge in the analysis of the four traditional Westminster family members: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. My project and tenure in Leuven were generously funded by a four-year fellowship from the Flanders Research Foundation (FWO). 

Prior to moving to Brussels, I worked at the University of Melbourne for six years in several roles, including in Strategy and Government Relations in the Chancellery, Media and Communications at the Melbourne School of Government, and Teaching Assistant at the School of Social and Political Sciences. In earlier roles, I worked as a TV Producer at Sky News Australia and spent a year supporting a foreign aid project in Solomon Islands. 


Email me at heath.pickering@gmail.com

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Heath Pickering


Peer-reviewed articles

Pickering, H., Bellens, T., & Brans, M. 2023. The Prime Minister's Chief-of-Staff: A Profile and Changing Trends in Westminster Democracies, 1990-2021. Governance, 1-19.

Pickering, H., Craft, J., & Brans, M. 2023. Ministerial Advisers as Power Resources: Exploring Expansion, Stability, and Contraction in Westminster Ministers’ Offices, Parliamentary Affairs, gsad005, 1-23. (including supplementary material: ministerial adviser datasets and also features of ministers' offices in the four classic Westminster countries)

Orchard, D., Gouglas, A., & Pickering, H. 2023. Life after Whitehall: The Career Moves of British Special Advisers, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 0(0), 1-21.

Brenton, S., & Pickering, H. 2022. Trustworthiness, Stability and Productivity of Minority Governments in Australia, Parliamentary Affairs, 75(2), 308-339.

Krajňák, S., Staronova, K., & Pickering, H. 2020. Ministerial Advisers in Slovakia: Profiles and Career Paths, 2010–2020, NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy, 13(2), 115-140. 

Book chapters

Pickering, H., Brans., & Peters, B. G. 2023. The comparative method in ministerial adviser research. In R. Shaw (eds), Handbook on Ministerial and Political Advisers. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 137-154.

Meert, A., Pickering, H., Brans., & Gouglas, A. 2023. Systematic Literature Reviews: Opportunities and limits in ministerial adviser research. In R. Shaw (eds), Handbook on Ministerial and Political Advisers. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 173-195.

Pickering, H. 2023. Glossary: common terms and concepts found in the literature on ministerial and political advisers. In R. Shaw (eds), Handbook on Ministerial and Political Advisers. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 419-426.

Book reviews

Pickering, H. 2022. Advising Governments in the Westminster Tradition: Policy Advisory Systems in Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand, by Jonathan Craft and John Halligan, Public Administration Review, 82(4), 778-780 (book review).

Pickering, H. & Brans, M. 2020. Government ministers and their "Special Advisers", Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 30(3), 521–523 (double book review).

Articles in progress (with other co-authors)

Executive Advisory and Support Offices: Exploring the Institutional Architecture of Ministers’ Offices

Sample of op-ed articles

Pickering, H & Gouglas, T 2023. Most Special Advisers become lobbyists after leaving government – new research, 28 February, The Conversation, London

Pickering, H 2020. Covid-19 to entrench 'big government' policies for good, 28 April, The Mandarin, Canberra

Pickering, H 2019. Why Canada has so many political advisers, 17 October, The Conversation, Toronto

Pickering, H 2018. Surviving Australian politics: 4 reforms to stop ousting leaders, 30 August, Pursuit, Melbourne

Pickering, H 2017. Australia’s Referendum Drought, 16 August, Pursuit, Melbourne

Brenton, S & Pickering, H 2016. The rise of LGBTIQ Politicians, 30 June, Election Watch, Melbourne 

Pickering, H 2016. Brexit proves Baby Boomers should get less of a vote, 27 June, VICE

Teaching experience

Teaching Assistant in the Public Governance Institute, KU Leuven, Belgium

(202122) Policy Analysis (undergraduate level)

(201920) Comparative Public Policy in Europe  (graduate level)


Teaching Assistant at the University of Melbourne, Australia

(2017–18) Public Policy Making (undergraduate level)

(2018) Comparative Politics (undergraduate level)

(2018) Politics and the Media (undergraduate level)

(2016–17) International Politics (undergraduate level)

Methods and techniques

I have published academic research using and/or explaining the following methods and techniques:

Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

Demographic analysis (sometimes called Prosopography)

Systematic Literature Review (including  the systematic scoping review)

Comparative Methods

Regression analysis

Formulating typologies and indices

Case studies

I am also a member of the 'Executive Triangle' research network. Follow the link here to learn more about our research and activitites.