Before working at the OECD he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first in Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later in University College London (Professor of Economics); as a national civil servant (first as an Economic Adviser in Her Majesty's Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the UK Ministry of Aviation); as an international civil servant (with the World Bank, where he was at one stage Director of the Economics Department); and as a consultant (in Greece, Malaysia, and Washington, DC). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in book form under the title of Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy.
Since leaving the OECD he has been an independent author and consultant, and has acted as Visiting Fellow or Professor at the OECD Development Centre (Paris), the Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels), Monash University (Melbourne), the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (Paris), the University of Melbourne, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (London), the New Zealand Business Roundtable, the Melbourne Business School, and the Institute of Economic Affairs (London). He is currently a Visiting Professor at the Westminster Business School, London, and also at the London School of Economics.
He is an Honorary Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, and in 1992 he was made Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.