The Team


Ken Gibb – DirectorKen Gibb

Kenneth Gibb is Director of Policy Scotland and Professor of Housing Economics at the University of Glasgow. His primary research interests are in the economics of housing policy, the future of social housing and the application of ideas from institutional and behavioural economics to housing analysis. Recent scholarly activities have included ten years as managing editor of the Urban Studies journal, chair of the International Sociological Association’s housing committee 43 and serving on four journal editorial advisory boards.He is board member of Sanctuary housing association.

A former head of department and associate dean, further information on his work and publications can be found at his staff website. Further material on policy and other work can be found at his personal blog.

Des McNulty – Deputy Directordes

Des is a sociologist and public policy specialist with 20 years experience in the higher education sector. In his role with Policy Scotland, Des has responsibility for engaging with central and local government, non-departmental public bodies, business and third sector organisations and linking them with academics and the research being generated in the broad public policy field at the University of Glasgow. During the Scottish referendum he organised a range of high-profile events involving academic debates, debates between the two campaigns and information events that contributed to the quality of the constitutional debate in Scotland. Following the referendum, McNulty worked with Duncan Maclennan and Ken Gibb our submission to the Smith Commission which raises many of the issues which are taken up in the proposal. His research interests focus on public policy and devolution.

Having served in the Scottish Parliament for twelve years in a variety of posts, including as a Minister in the Scottish Government, he has a substantial breadth of experience of policy processes under devolution and of the political context of Scotland and the UK. Prior to entering Parliament, McNulty was a senior Councillor in both Strathclyde Regional Council and Glasgow City Council. Having left politics, he is applying these unique insights about public policy in academia.

McNulty played a significant part in preparing the ESRC Urban Big Data bid. Subsequent to the award, he continues to play a major role as the Centre’s Knowledge Exchange and Outreach Manager, responsible for the centre’s impact and communications plan. In addition to running the knowledge exchange strategy of a large ESRC centre, McNulty has been instrumental in developing broader outreach activities within the College of Social Sciences – in the development of the East End Social Science Hub for example, and is a regular speaker on how to do knowledge exchange at internal events within the University and on a Scotland-wide basis.

Duncan Maclennan CBE FRSE FAcSS

Duncan is an applied economist with interests in cities, neighbourhoods, infrastructure and housing. He is currently Professor of Public Policy at the University of Glasgow, Professor of Strategic Urban Management and Finance at the University of St Andrews and a Professorial Research Fellow in Urban Economics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

His current research is concerned with economic drivers and productivity consequences of metropolitan investment strategies for infrastructure and housing and of the fiscal and spending autonomies in sub-national levels of government. He has recently completed work on infrastructure in Scotland, city deals and devolution in the UK, as a Knowledge Leader for the ESRC, and completed two reports for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute on productivity effects of housing outcomes and on the role of public housing stock transfers in creating successful non-profits. He plays a lead role in the cross-national collaborative housing policy project on Shaping Futures and is currently undertaking research on presenting and modelling the economic impacts of housing investment for the Government of New South Wales and the New South Wales Housing Federation. Recently published academic work includes research on housing transitions in China, the role of housing and inequality if Piketty’s model, housing impacts on entrepreneurship, modelling regional house price cycles and city deals in the UK.

Duncan, a graduate of the University of Glasgow, was appointed to a personal Chair in Applied Economics at Glasgow in 1983 ( an subsequently was the first holder of the Mactaggart Chair) and was Director of the ESRC’s Centre for Housing Research and Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow from 1983-1997, Director of the ESRC Cities, Competitiveness and Cohesion Programme from 1996-99, and Economic Adviser to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation from 1989-99 and Directed their research programmes on Housing and the Macro-economy and on Neighbourhood Regeneration in the 1990’s. He has held visiting Chairs at the Wharton Business School, the Department of Economics at the University of California (Berkeley) and RMIT (Melbourne).

From 1999-2008 Duncan worked in government. He was Special Adviser to the First Ministers of Scotland from 1999-2003, then a Chief Economist in the State Government of Victoria and Chief Economist in the Federal Department for Infrastructure and Cities in the Federal Government of Canada. Prior to that Duncan was on the Board of Scottish Homes for an decade and was chair of care and repair Scotland from 1988-93. He has advised the Prime Minister’s Office on housing and cities issues in Canada (2004-5), New Zealand (2008-9) and Australia (2012-14) and was lead consultant on housing and city issues to OECD from 1978-93

He has recently served on the RICS Commissions for Housing in the UK and Scotland, on the Northern Housing Commission, The Fairer Fife Commission and is currently and Economic Commissioner for the Glasgow Region City Deal. He now lives in Canada and Scotland.

Professor Duncan Maclennan  CBE FRSE FAcSS FRSA RICS RTPI CIH

Sharon Chisholm –  Affiliate

Sharon currently directs Shaping Futures: Housing Policies for the 21st Century, an international multi-sectoral knowledge exchange project. She managed a similar project, New Times: New Business: Housing Provision in Times of Austerity, while at the University of St Andrews. She contributed to research for the Government of Norway on options for evolving a more efficient housing rental sector and advised the Province of Nova Scotia on housing policy. She was the Knowledge Exchange Specialist and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews from 2009-2012 where she represented the university as a Governor with the Scottish Universities Insight Institute and was a member of the St Andrews Knowledge & Enterprise Group (StAKE).

Sharon brings experience from a long career in progressively senior positions in Canada with municipal governments (Ottawa & Dartmouth), community based housing groups (Access Housing) and as ED of Canada’s preeminent national housing association, Canadian Housing & Renewal Association, where she honed her skills in policy, development, research and advocacy.