Dr Mark Matthews

D.Phil, M.Sc., B.A. (Hons)

University Fellow

Mark is public policy specialist with specific expertise in science and innovation policy and in the management of uncertainty and risk in the public sector (including the relationship between these two areas). He has worked in both the UK and in Australia. He has a long-standing interest in, and experience of, strengthening both university-government and university-business engagement. 

Mark is currently based in the United Kingdom, where he works in the private sector whilst remaining research active and maintaining a set of academic affiliations. 

Mark’s contributions to the Northern Institute focus on making methodological advances relevant to:

  • strengthening the effectiveness of government policy engagement with local communities and stakeholders 
  • the diagnostic methods aimed at improving appraisal and evaluation in government as part of an 'experimentalist' governance stance 
  • new approaches to addressing uncertainty and risk management challenges in governance.
  • contributing expertise on ways of building effective government-academic collaboration in these and other areas.

He will also contribute to executive education and other training and capacity building activities wherever possible.

Research Interests

Mark has a long-standing interest in collaborative research and knowledge dissemination aimed at improving how public policy is designed and delivered. He is particularly interested in finding better ways of using local and place-based knowledge in the policy process and on better ways of managing uncertainty and risk in the policy learning cycle (especially because getting better at the former can help to improve the latter).

His specific areas of current professional activity are:

  • Public sector strategy advice (higher education, economic development and innovation support)
  • Public policy capacity-building (with an emphasis on developing new diagnostic methods for application in appraisal and evaluation)
  • Public sector evaluations and reviews
  • Public sector reform and innovation
  • Private sector innovation strategy and management
  • Science and innovation policy

Current Projects

Mark’s contributions to the Northern Institute focus on the application of simplified Bayesian methods to enhance learning and adaptation in the policy process. This work is based on expressing government interventions as competing hypotheses to be tested via implementation - an approach that has the potential to create a seamless integration of appraisal, evaluation and risk management. 

More generally, Mark is involved in collaborative work in the UK on:

  • the design principles for a new approach to industry and innovation strategy following the UK’s exit from the EU
  • background research on the implications of transnational value chains for national innovation policies

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Publications & Resources


Matthews, M. (2016). Transformational Public Policy: A new strategy for coping with uncertainty and risk. Routledge: Studies in Governance and Public Policy series.

Book Chapters

Matthews, M. (2016). How Better Methods for Coping with Uncertainty and Ambiguity Can Strengthen Government - Civil Society Collaboration. In G. Carey, K. Landvogt & J. Barraket (eds.), Designing and implementing public policy: cross-sectoral debates. Routledge.

Matthews, M. (2009). Fostering Creativity and Innovation in Cooperative federalism - the Uncertainty and Risk Dimensions. In J. Wanna (ed.), Critical Reflections on Australian Public Policy. Australia New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).

Matthews, M., & Frater, R. (2008). How Intangible Networks Can Boost the Innovation Odds. In T. Spencer-Smith (ed.), Inside the Innovation Matrix: Finding the hidden human Dimensions (pp. 54-69). Australian Business Foundation. 

Journal Articles

Carey, G., & Matthews, M. (2016, forthcoming). Methods for delivering complex social services: exploring adaptive management and regulation in the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme. Public Management Review.

Matthews, M. (2016). Using signal processing diagnostics to improve public sector evaluations. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 3(2), 320-335. DOI: 10.1002/app5.110.

Matthews, M., & Kompas, T. (2015). Coping with nasty surprises: improving risk management in the public sector using simplified Bayesian methods. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 2(3), 452-466. DOI: 10.1002/app5.100.

Matthews, M. (2008). Science and Innovation Policy and the New (and Old) Economics of Creativity. Cultural Science, 1(1). 

Matthews, M. (2007). Capability Building and Risk Management in Commercialisation: Lessons from Radiata. Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 9(2).

Conference Papers & Presentations

Matthews, M. (2015). Concepts and methods for strengthening risk cultures. LabWorks 2015. A major international conference in public sector innovation organised by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

Matthews, M. (2014). A Strategy for Maximising the Potential of the Interface between Science and Policy. Brisbane Ecosciences Precinct Seminar (organised by the Queensland Government). 25 June.

Matthews, M. (2014). Maximising the Return on Investment in Collaborative Public Policy: Rationales, Strategies and Tactics Presentation to research staff and senior management at University of Southern Queensland. Toowoomba, Queensland. 24 June.

Matthews, M. (2014). Counter Balancing Evidence-based Policymaking with Intelligence-based Policymaking. Talk given to the Masters of Public Policy students at the Blavatnik School of Government. University of Oxford. 19 April.

Matthews, M. (2014). Innovation and the Productivity Challenge in the Public Sector. Talk given at the inaugural Policy Reflections Forum at the Department of Communications. Wednesday 5 March: Canberra.

Matthews, M. (2014). Innovation in Governance: the Productivity Benefits of Fostering a Greater Tolerance for Uncertainty and Ambiguity. Paper given at the ANZSOG workshop on ‘Twenty-first Century public management: the experimentalist alternative’. 11-12 Feb. Crawford School of Public Policy.

Matthews, M. (2014). Implementing Experimental Governance: Implications for the Evaluation of Industrial Policy and for Maximising Learning from Industrial practice. Presentation to the OECD Expert Group on the Evaluation of Industrial Policy. 16 January. Paris.

Matthews, M. (2013). Supporting the Parliament by Enhanced Government – Academic Cooperation. Presentation to a workshop on Parliamentary Research services: Roles and Functions. National Assembly Research Service. Republic of Korea. 1 November.

Matthews, M. (2013). Strengthening Government – Academic Cooperation in Public Policy. Seminar given at the Korean Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management. 31 October.

Matthews, M. (2013). Strengthening Government – Academic Cooperation in Public Policy. Seminar given at the Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo. 28 October.

Matthews, M. (2013). Managing Innovation and Risk in a Public Sector Context – Leadership Challenges with Specific Reference to Social Policy. Talk given to the Department of Human Services Accountants Network: Canberra.

Matthews, M. (2013). Managing Innovation and Risk in a Public Sector Context. Talk given to the Government of Singapore Civil Service College. 2013 Senior Management Program (Australian segment).

Matthews, M. (2013). Is innovation policy at Risk of Heading for a Legitimacy Crisis and How Should the Policy Community Respond to Such Risks? Seminar given at Institute of Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. 19tthh March.

Matthews, M. (2013). Lessons from Building a Collaborative Partnership Between Government and Academia. Talk given at Wiley Inc. Executive Seminar on Making research Relevant. Feb, Melbourne.

Matthews, M. (2012). Evaluation and Innovation: Why improvements to Dealing with Uncertainty and Risk in Evaluation are a Key Enabler of Public Sector Innovation. Talk given at Queensland Govt. Department of Information Technology and Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA) Forum on ‘Science, Technology and Innovation Policy: Evaluation Perspectives’. Brisbane, 23rd May

Matthews, M. (2012). The Multiple Pathways Via Which Basic Research Can Lead to Innovation or Economic Benefits for Australia. Presentation to a high-level Roundtable on Achieving Economic Spill overs from Science in Australia. Government House, Canberra. (attended by the Governor-General).

Matthews, M. (2012). Risk and Uncertainty in Public Policy. Talk given at Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) Tertiary Quality and Participation Division Planning Day.

Matthews, M. (2011). Uncertainty and Risk Management as a Key Driver and Enabler of Public Sector Innovation. Talk given at the CPA Congress in Canberra. 23rd September.

Matthews, M. (2011). Evaluation and Innovation: Why Improvements to Dealing with Uncertainty and Risk in Evaluation are a Key Enabler of Public Sector Innovation. Talk given to the Canberra Evaluation Forum. 19th May.

Matthews, M. (2011). No risk – No Reward: Giving Preparedness a Central Role in Science and Innovation Policy. Presentation to Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Innovation Week. May.

Matthews, M. (2011). Why Interoperability? Presentation at symposium on Enhancing Interoperability in the Emerging Global Research Order. Joint Symposium organised by FEAST and the University of Queensland. Brisbane. March.

Keynote Presentations

Matthews, M. (2013). Managing Innovation and Risk is a Public Sector Context. Keynote address at the TMF Risk Management Conference: NSW Government Manage Risk – Drive Performance. Australian Technology Park. Sydney. 7 November.

Matthews, M. (2013). Federation Green Papers. Talk given at the second workshop organised by the Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on Improving collaboration between the Australian Public Service and Researchers. 10th July 2013. Australian National University

Matthews, M. (2013). Building Effective Collaboration Between Government and Academia: Putting the Role of Evidence-based Policymaking Into a More Realistic Context. Keynote speech given at a workshop organized by the Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet entitled Improving collaboration between the Australian Public Service and Researchers. 13th June 2013 held at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

Matthews, M. (2012). Governments' Role as Uncertainty and Risk Manager of the Last Resort: Implications for the Public Sector Innovation Agenda. Post budget day talk given to Australian Government Department of Finance and Deregulation. Canberra. May.

Matthews, M. (2011). The Public Sector Innovation Agenda: On or Off the Rails? Speech delivered to the Attorney-General’s Department Canberra, 3rd August (delivered to the department as a whole and as an after dinner talk to the Senior Executive Service).

Matthews, M. (2011). Innovative Approaches to Supporting University Research. Presentation at the 3rd Annual Australian Higher Education Congress 2010 .10 - 12 March 2010, Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney.  

Research Reports

Matthews, M., & Cheng, J. (2015). A strategy for Australia’s International Engagement in Science and Research Based on Positioning in Key Transnational Research Value Chains.  Paper commissioned by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) Project on: Asia Literacy: Language and Beyond. 

Matthews, M. (2003). Commonwealth Support for Science and Innovation: Options for Developing an Analytical Perspective. Report prepared for the Science and Innovation Mapping System Taskforce, Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training.  

Matthews, M., & Frater, R. (2003). Creating and Exploiting Intangible Networks: How Radiata Was Able to Improve Its Odds of Success in the Risky Process of Innovating. Detailed analytical case study prepared for the Science and Innovation Mapping System Taskforce, Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training.  

Monographs & Working Papers

Carey, G., & Matthews, M. (2016). Better methods for delivering adaptive regulation in public management: An application to the NDIS. Working Paper, Regulatory Institutions Network, Australian National University.

White, G., & Matthews, M. (2013). Faster & Smarter: Using a Hypothesis-testing Methodology to Reduce the Time and Cost of Evaluations. Discussion Paper prepared for consideration by the OECD Expert Panel on the Evaluation of Industrial Policy. 

Matthews, M. (2009). Giving preparedness a Central Role in Science and Innovation Policy. Discussion Paper commissioned by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS).

Matthews, M. (2006). Managing Uncertainty and Risk in Science, Innovation and Preparedness: Why Public Policy Should Pay More Attention to Financial and Geopolitical Considerations.  Discussion Paper commissioned by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS).  

Matthews, M. (2002). Providing the Machinery of Science: Defining a Whole-of-Government Strategy for Securing Access to Critical Research Facilities, Australian Research Infrastructure Project. Academy of Science Discussion Paper. 

Professional Positions, Memberships & Awards

Professional Positions

  • Associate Fellow, Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, University of Sheffield
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University


  • Member of the Asia and the Pacific Policy Society
  • Member of the Society for Risk Analysis
Mark Matthews


T: +61 8 8946 7468
E: mark.matthews@me.com

Sheffield, UK