Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald
Associate Policy Researcher


Ph.D. in policy analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School; M.P.P. in business and government, Harvard Kennedy School; B.A. in political science, Hamline University


Tim McDonald is an associate policy researcher at RAND, where he co-directs its initiative on system transformation. He is a visiting researcher at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, where he focuses on integrating systems analysis with negotiation strategy. Through these roles he leads and contributes to research, advises decision makers in government and industry, and teaches and mentors students.

McDonald's research draws on tools from systems analysis, Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty (DMDU), and negotiation and strategy to analyze the performance of large social systems and, when necessary, develop designs and approaches to improve their performance. McDonald works across social policy and national security domains, and advises senior leaders in private and public sectors.

McDonald has a Ph.D. in policy analysis from Pardee RAND, an M.P.P. in business and government from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.A. in political science from Hamline University.


  • Health Care Reform

    The Rise and Fall of Seguro Popular: Mexico's Health Care Odyssey

    Mexico is a study in contrasts: once a model for how to do health system reform, now a model of what not to do. The rise, plateau, and elimination of Seguro Popular is a story about how the reform of large, important systems unfolds over time, as well as their vulnerability to political setbacks and reversals made worse during a time of crisis such as a pandemic.

    Nov 14, 2023

    Think Global

  • Emergency Preparedness

    Planning as Freedom

    The pandemic has made Americans less free, confining us to our homes, and separating us from the people we love and the activities we value. This experience may help people learn the importance of planning to preserving and expanding freedom.

    Sep 4, 2020

    The RAND Blog

  • Health Care Services Capacity

    Don't Waste This Crisis: How America Can Begin Building a System of Health

    COVID-19 is shining a harsh spotlight on long-recognized but under-addressed gaps in the U.S. health system. There may never have been a more pressing time to think differently, broadening from health care services to a health-producing System of Health.

    May 4, 2020

    The RAND Blog