PROFESSOR MAURICE KOGAN ; Civil Servant Turned Social Scientist

Article excerpt

Maurice Kogan was a high-flying civil servant who in mid-career became an academic, and soon developed an international reputation. Increasingly, it is argued that social scientists should learn how government really works: the authority of Kogan's research was based partly on his first-hand knowledge of such governmental processes.

After almost 40 years in the academic world, the wide international acclaim and affection he had generated in his career was celebrated as leading researchers in higher education studies from across the globe came together to mark his Festschrift, Governing Knowledge (2005). Most had, over the years, enjoyed not only the stimulating intellectual debate Kogan always generated, but also the warm and generous hospitality he and Ulla, his Swedish wife, so often provided. And yet this Festschrift covered just one of the areas in which Kogan was an acknowledged expert.

His parents were Jewish immigrants and he and his identical twin Philip - who became founder-publisher of Kogan Page - were two of six children. When the brothers held their joint 70th birthday party, the invitation included a photo of the two of them as toddlers, but it was claimed no one now knew which was which. Maurice wore a badge to the party announcing, "I'm not Philip".

From Stratford Grammar School, Kogan won an exhibition to Christ's College, Cambridge. In 1953 he achieved a First in History and was also placed first in that year's open examination to join the Home Civil Service Administrative Grade. He gained rapid promotion in the Education Department. In 1966 he became an Assistant Secretary following spells as Private Secretary to Sir Edward Boyle and as Secretary to the Central Advisory Council for Education. Under the chairmanship of the formidable Lady Plow-den this committee in 1967 produced one of the most influential and controversial reports ever to appear on primary education in England.

In the late 1960s Kogan, along with others such as Elliott Jaques and the economist John Vaizey, was part of a highly talented group recruited to the new Brunel University. In 1969 Kogan became the university's first Professor of Government and Social Administration. For over two decades he, with his team of colleagues, ran perhaps the UK's leading Master's course in Public and Social Administration. When, in 1989, the Vice-Chancellor suddenly died, Kogan took on the role of acting Vice-Chancellor with great aplomb - but only as his "nine to five" job because his commitment to his research was such that he continued to fit that into his "spare time".

He authored some 40 books (several of which went into subsequent editions) and many other publications, covering key issues in a wide range of public services. Kogan was a sharp (sometimes outspoken) critic of work he felt did not stand up to rigorous intellectual scrutiny, but such was his wit, energy and passion for good research that collaborators were delighted to work with him. Many, too, enjoyed the discussions with him that could range from literature, music and wine to the fun to be had from everyday life.

Kogan brought a breadth to research across the public services that was based on a combination of outstanding intellect, personal experience, historical perspective and wise understanding of political theory and practice. He drew on this to analyse the values, authority and power at work in the structures and processes of many institutions.

A series of pioneering studies on various aspects of education policy showed early examples of this approach. They included The Politics of Education (1971), based on extended interviews with two education ministers (Edward Boyle and Anthony Crosland), and Educational Policy-Making: a study of interest groups and Parliament (1975), which illustrated the methodological innovation and detail he brought to the study of public administration. …