Public Policy Community

Dr Finbarr Livesey - 1972-2019

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge

Dr Finbarr Livesey was a valued member of the public policy community at Cambridge. He passed away on 2nd of September 2019. A tribute has been published by POLIS.


Dr Livesey is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge. He has been Director of the MPhil in Public Policy (MPP) at the department, a programme he helped to set up in 2013. Prior to this he was Acting Director of the MPhil in Technology Policy at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and Director of the Centre for Industry and Government at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) within the Department of Engineering from 2004 to 2011. Prior to his academic work, Dr Livesey spent five years in industry working to develop new technologies with Olivetti Research Labs (ORL) and Cambridge Consultants Ltd (CCL).

Dr Livesey trained in physics (University College Cork, Ireland) and Computer Science (University of Cambridge). He completed a Masters in Public Policy at the Kennedy School (Harvard University) and then took a PhD in industrial economics and policy (University of Cambridge).

Research interests

Dr Livesey’s research addresses three areas – the changing dynamics of the global economy, the role of government in supporting growth based on the emergence of new industries, and the how policy making is changing due to new technologies.

Much has been written on how globalisation has become a dominant force, with economic power shifting from West to East. However, much of this literature takes a large-scale, national economies approach. Understanding how companies are making decisions, specifically on where to locate production due to automation, changing demand profiles and new production technologies, and working from the bottom up challenges many current theories of how the global economy is likely to evolve in the long term. Dr Livesey completed From Global To Local: The making of things and the end of globalisation published by Pantheon in the US and Profile in the UK in 2017.

The changing economics of technology-based industries and the role that government can and should play in supporting their growth are critically important for countries such as the UK, as future growth depends on being able to understand how new industrial systems and industries emerge and how the national economy can capture sufficient value as they grow and internationalise. This area has been understudied over the past twenty years as industrial policy and the complementary analysis of the structure of the economy went out of fashion.

At the same time calls for evidence-based policy making, moves to open policy making combined with the increasing use of digital technologies across government are radically changing the policy development process. There is much hype and a lack of rigorous work on how these changes will affect the policy process.