Akshay Mangla

Associate Professor in International Business

Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street


Akshay Mangla’s expertise is in comparative political economy, governance and development, with a regional specialisation in South Asia.

A political scientist by training, Akshay’s research seeks to understand the causes and consequences of state capacity and institutional reform in developing countries. His ongoing projects investigate how governments and non-state actors work collectively to implement public policies and services in India. 

His first book, Making Bureaucracy Work: Norms, Education and Public Service Delivery in Rural India (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press), investigates why and how state agencies implement universal primary education programs (more or less) effectively in India.  It advances a theoretical framework centered on informal bureaucratic norms, the unwritten rules of the game that guide the behavior of state officials and their relations with citizens and non-state agencies. The findings are based on more than two years of subnational comparative field research in four Indian states.

Akshay has an active research agenda focusing on the political economy of institutions and frontline public service delivery in developing countries. This includes a large-scale study of police reform and women’s security in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. He has embarked on a second book project on state capacity and social welfare, entitled The Indian Welfare State, which explore the historical development of social policies in India. Akshay’s applies intensive field research methods, including ethnography, interviews, focus group discussions, surveys and field experiments. His research has been published in Asian Survey, Governance, Politics and Society and Public Administration and Development. 

Alongside his role at Saїd Business School, Akshay is a Research Fellow at Green Templeton College. Prior to joining the University of Oxford, Akshay taught on the Harvard Business School faculty, as an Assistant Professor in the Business, Government and International Economy Unit. Akshay holds a B.S. in Finance and B.A. in Philosophy (summa cum laude) from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.Sc. in Management Research (with Distinction) from the University of Oxford, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught a doctoral course on qualitative research design and field methods.  

To learn more about Akshay’s research, including his working papers and CV, visit his personal website.


  • Comparative political economy
  • State capacity and frontline public services
  • Bureaucracy
  • Human development
  • Institutional change in emerging markets
  • Political economy of South Asia
  • Field research methods


Akshay current research investigates how frontline institutions work to improve public welfare and security.

Over the past decade, Akshay has studied frontline public institutions and services in India. His book, Making Bureaucracy Work: Norms, Education and Public Service Delivery in Rural India (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in the Comparative Politics of Education series), investigates why and how the implementation of primary education programs vary across Indian states. The book advances a novel argument highlighting the importance of informal bureaucratic norms, unwritten rules of the game, which shape the behavior of state officials and their relations with citizens and nongovernmental agencies. Currently, Akshay has extended his research on bureaucracy and education to examine how primary school systems in India are adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Akshay is currently writing a second book examining social welfare programs and frontline state institutions in India, entitled The Indian Welfare State (under contract with Oxford University Press). The project investigates the uneven historical growth of social policy in India, the uneven development of local state implementation capacity and associated dependence on private provision of services.  

Akshay is engaged in another major research project on policing and citizen security in India. With collaborators at the University of Virginia, Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner and Sandip Sukhtankar, he has been studying the impact of police reforms that aim to improve women’s security in India. He has conducted related research on administrative capacity and behavior of the Indian police, including the training of new officers and integration of women into the police force.

In prior work, Akshay has examined how private agencies enforce labor standards in global supply chains, including child labor initiatives in India.  

For his various projects, Akshay has conducted more than five years of field research across Indian states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi). His research has been supported by the M.I.T. Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), the World Bank, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Oxford Research England Global Challenges Research Fund, the American Institute for Indian Studies, and the NSEP David L. Boren Fellowship.


Akshay collaborates with governments, international agencies and NGOs on evidence-based policies and practices aiming to address global challenges. 

He is currently engaged in a research and capacity-building collaboration with the Indian police in Madhya Pradesh, aimed at improve police responsiveness to women and children. He contributes regularly to media and public policy debates on topics related to his research. Akshay holds various professional affiliations and appointments. He is a Research Affiliate at the Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University.  At Oxford, Akshay is a Faculty Associate of the Department of Politics and International Relations and the Contemporary South Asian Studies Program in the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. He leads a seminar on Gender and Development at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development at Somerville College.


Akshay teaches courses in international business, global rules and strategy, political economy and emerging markets.

Akshay teaches in multiple postgraduate and executive education programmes at the School. He applies the case method in his teaching, an approach that encourages critical thinking and analysis through interactive class discussion. He encourages students to draw on their diverse backgrounds and experiences to shed light on questions of global business and politics. He teaches the core EMBA course on Global Rule of the Game, designed to help students analyse and respond to the complex global business environment. He is the Module Leader for the Globalisation and Strategy module in the Oxford Executive Diploma in Strategy and Innovation. He also teaches for the course on Capitalism in Debate in the MBA Programme as well as for the Oxford Executive Diplomas in Global Business and in Organisational Leadership.

Akshay has written several Harvard Business School cases, which are taught in various degree-granting institutions. These include cases examining India’s democracy and development, the challenge of providing mass education in India, and the growth of Nigeria’s informal economy.

Akshay actively supervises doctoral students for the DPhil in Management Studies. He teaches the Political Economy Field Seminar in Trinity Term, a doctoral course examining foundational readings in political economy as well as selected topics adjacent to management studies. 

Reach Oxford pilot programme

Akshay is Co-Director of the REACH Oxford Pilot Programme, along with Professor. Maya Tudor at the Blavatnik School of Government. An experiential learning initiative, REACH invites selected teams of Oxford MBA and MPP students to problem-solve global challenges and produce impactful case studies on last-mile service delivery in developing countries. To learn more, read about the Reach Alliance at the University of Toronto and the Oxford Pilot Programme