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Administrative Fairness Lab

Using evidence and experiments to rethink fairness in frontline public decision-making.

The Administrative Fairness Lab is an interdisciplinary research group that conducts ground-breaking empirical research on public perceptions of procedural fairness in frontline administrative decision-making.

We combine legal, policy, qualitative, and quantitative research methods with innovative experimental approaches to develop a novel evidence base on how the public understands and experiences fairness across a wide range of public decision-making.

Each year, millions of decisions are made in important areas such as social security, community care, and immigration using varying administrative decision-making procedures. We have very little evidence on what the public thinks fairness looks like in these procedures, and these procedures have not been shaped around what the public thinks is procedurally fair. This has negative consequences for both people and effective policy implementation. We want to change that.

Professor Joe Tomlinson, Director, Administrative Fairness Lab

The value of procedural fairness

We undertake research to understand the benefits of procedural fairness in frontline decision-making.

Redefining procedural fairness

We undertake research to find out what the public thinks fairness means in different contexts.

Change practices

We influence real-world practices to take greater account of public perceptions of administrative fairness.

York as a centre of excellence

We are establishing University of York as the global centre of excellence in administrative fairness studies.

Groundbreaking research

Our work in the Administrative Fairness Lab is creating new and valuable insights into how people experience fairness in public decision-making.

Administrative fairness in the digital welfare state

A major new project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and led out of the Administrative Fairness Lab, will explore what the public conceives as administratively fair in frontline social security decision-making and what effect the use of digital technologies has on perceptions of administrative fairness. Running across a two-year period and drawing on experimental survey methods, the project will inform the design and development of social security systems and empower civil society actors to scrutinise social security decision-making systems.

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The work of the Administrative Fairness Lab builds on a long-standing research strength at the University of York and York Law School on using innovative interdisciplinary methods for addressing pressing problems.

Professor TT Arvind, Head of School, York Law School

The Leadership team:

Researchers working on Lab projects:

  • Dr Reuben Binns, Associate Professor of Human Centred Computing, University of Oxford
  • Dr Aleksandra Cichoka, Reader in Political Psychology, University of Kent
  • Sam Guy, PhD candidate in Law, University of York
  • Richard Pope, Consultant and Visiting Research Associate, University of York
  • Dr Ben Seyd, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Kent
  • Dr Mark Wilberforce, Senior Research Fellow in Social Policy, University of York