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Cathal FitzGerald

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Dr. Cathal FitzGerald joined NESC as Institutional Research Analyst in 2018, and he specialises in decision-making processes and structures. His work with NESC focusses on governance structures and processes to improve Ireland’s decision-making, policy adoption and implementation. Specifically, his work takes a behavioural political science approach, applying behavioural insights (‘irrationality’) to traditional concepts of institutions, interests, and ideology to help explain good/bad policy decisions.

Currently, Cathal is leading NESC’s research into the impact of economic transition on vulnerable workers and sectors, specifically Ireland’s low carbon and digital transition. His previous work at NESC has had an emphasis on climate change and the governance of Ireland’s low carbon transition, along with land-use and urban development. This includes an examination of the strategic framing of climate change and climate action, and examining the opportunity to apply the concept of transport-orientated development in Ireland.

Cathal has extensive experience and knowledge of public/civil service organisations and their decision-making structures having worked in the Oireachtas, in the Departments of the Taoiseach, Transport, Enterprise, and in the former State advisory agency Forfás. He has also served as a Special Economic Advisor to the Government. From 2011, Cathal’s work was central to the development and implementation of the Irish Government’s policy response to the unemployment crisis following the economic crash, the annual Action Plan for Jobs series. Cathal has also worked on the enterprise aspects of economic infrastructure policy, approaches to regional development, the impact of Brexit on firms across sectors, and Ireland’s policy on data centres.

He holds an BA in Economics and Social Studies from Trinity College Dublin, and a PhD from Dublin City University. He is a recipient of the Basil Chubb Prize, awarded annually for the best PhD thesis produced in an Irish university in any field of politics.

Tel: 00 353 1 8146394


Selected Work

  • July 2019: “Give credit to the market: The decision not to prohibit 100 per cent loan-to-value mortgages”, Administration, Volume 67: Issue 2, p.25–45.
  • July 2019: “Policy success/policy failure: A framework for understanding policy choices”, with Eoin O’Malley and Deiric Ó Broin, Administration, Volume 67: Issue 2, p.1–24.
  • June 2019: “Transport-Orientated Development: The National Context in Ireland”, presentation to NESC Policy Workshop, ‘Transport-Orientated Development: Making it Happen in Ireland’, Dublin, Ireland.
  • June 2019: “Transport-Orientated Development: Assessing Opportunity for Ireland – Background Case Studies”, with Noel Cahill and Edna Jordan, NESC Research Report No. 14.
  • June 2019: “Transport-Orientated Development: Assessing Opportunity for Ireland”, NESC Council Report No. 148.
  • April 2019: “The Framing of Climate Action in Ireland: Strategic Considerations”, NESC Secretariat Paper No. 17.
  • July 2018: “Policy Success and Failure: Irrationality, Ideology, Institutions, and Interests”, presentation to School of Law and Government Policy Seminar, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.
  • June 2018: “Government Statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Strategy”, Policy Paper, Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Dublin, Ireland.
  • June 2018: “The Firm-Level Impact of Brexit On Most Exposed Sectors: Findings and Insights”, Policy Paper, Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Dublin, Ireland.
  • April 2018: “Economic Decision-Making and Rational Behaviour”, presentation to Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Dublin, Ireland.
  • October 2017: “Behavioural Science Research and Enterprise Policy”, presentation to Geary Institute of Public Policy, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.
  • June 2017: “Trait, State, or Source? A Methodological Reflection on Leadership Trait Analysis”, (with Femke A.W.J. Van Esch), paper for the 40th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • June 2017: “Brexit: Firm-level Impact on Enterprise”, presentation to Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service Annual Conference 2017, Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland.
  • November 2016: “Surprisingly Rational? The Case of 100% Mortgages in Ireland in 2005”, presentation to the 9th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference, Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • November 2016: “Leading to Crisis: Decision-Making in Ireland’s Celtic Tiger”, PhD Thesis, Dublin City University.
  • November 2015: “I Groupthink Therefore We Are: Detecting Behavioural Convergence in Leaders Before the Economic Crisis”, presentation to the 8th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference, ESRI, Dublin, Ireland.
  • October 2015: “Explanations for the Inflation of Policy Bubbles: Privatisation and Taxation policy in Ireland”, (with Eoin O’Malley), paper for Political Studies Association of Ireland Annual Conference 2015, Cork, Ireland.
  • March 2015: “Explanations for the Inflation of Policy Bubbles: Privatisation and Taxation policy in Ireland”, (with Eoin O’Malley), paper for the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Joint Sessions, on The Politics of Policy Overreaction, Warsaw, Poland.
  • November 2014: “I Groupthink, Therefore We Are: Detecting Convergence Bias in Leaders before the Economic Crisis”, paper presented to DCU School of Law and Government, Postgraduate Seminar, Dublin, Ireland.
  • June 2014: “Detecting Behavioural Biases in National Leadership in the European Economic Crisis”, presentation to conference In Search of European Political Union, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • May 2014: “Behavioural Biases in National Leadership”, presentation to Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI) Postgraduate Conference, Dublin, Ireland.