Institute for Democracy & Economic Analysis
IDEA is a think-tank arm of CERGE-EI focusing on policy-relevant research and recommendations. Backed by rigorous analysis and academic expertise of CERGE-EI scholars, IDEA contributes to policy debates with its non-ideological, evidence-based approach to public policy. IDEA is funded by private donors and public research grants.
The Czech Republic has completed the systemic transformation from communism to democracy with a market economy. It is now facing the challenge of catching up with the most advanced countries in the quality of its democracy and level of economic development. For the Czech Republic to be successful in international competition, it is essential to realize its full potential. In this context, the country faces a great need to improve and broaden the nature of public discussion. In particular, the public at large and many public officials and business leaders feel that the existing government and non-government organizations, while useful, do not generate a sufficiently broad-based and rigorous discussion of the important issues and that the resulting policies are often adopted on partisan grounds, rather than on the basis of a broader political or societal consensus - based on facts and reasoned analysis.
To remedy this situation, we have created the Institute for Democracy and Economic Analysis (IDEA) - a modern and politically independent think-tank that will (a) generate and disseminate a broad range of leading ideas for policy, based on solid analysis, (b) contribute to the creation of a national vision and strategy for the future and (c) provide citizens with sufficient information to make their voices heard in public life and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.
In its formation and functioning, IDEA will draw on successful aspects of leading think-tanks and policy institutions in other countries, including the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, Peterson Institute, The Third Way Institute, and Center for Global Development in the United States; Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Royal Institute for International Affairs ("Chatham House"), and Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in Great Britain; Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Belgium; Bertelsmann Foundation and Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Germany; DeBenedetti Foundation in Italy; and CASE Foundation in Poland. Some of these institutions are politically oriented, while others are politically independent. Both types of organizations are also active in the Czech Republic. The politically oriented ones - i.e., those affiliated with one or another political party - already play a relatively important part. IDEA is politically independent and aims to carry out socially beneficial activities.
Activities and Human Resources
IDEA’s activities will range from (a) parliamentary hearings, speakers, round tables, workshops and conferences, and town meetings with citizens to (b) broadly available policy briefs and position papers, and (c) web/internet and media communication.
IDEA’s intellectual and policy content will be provided by senior and junior fellows, academics, professionals, and policy makers from both the Czech Republic (CR) and abroad. IDEA will be directed by Professor Jan Svejnar, and it will be managed by a team of administrators with experience in relevant public and private sector work.
While focusing on its core activities, it will also collaborate with Czech academic institutions and build bridges to other NGO’s in the policy relevant areas, so as to maximize effectiveness and bring about greatest benefits for the Czech Republic.
In the initial phase of its activities, IDEA will focus on the following topics:
- Czech Republic and European Union (EU) and the security situation in Europe – role of the EU in a global world, CR’s strategy vis-a-vis EU, adoption and role of the Euro, national and European security
- Economic and social reforms – public finance, education, R&D and innovation, healthcare, pensions, labor market
- Environmental and energy issues – questions related to global warming, CO2 emission limits, trading permits, energy dependence and diversification
- Functioning of the government – ethics in public policy, courts and the legal system, public procurement on both, the central and local levels, efficiency of the regulatory system
- Topical issues – rapid analytical response to emergencies and sudden developments, formulation of leading issues, e.g., the preparation of analyses and suggestions for economic crisis management
In its activities, IDEA will be guided by the following principles:
Creating policy consensus on the basis of intellectual openness – accepting free competition of ideas; being open to ideas generated in all parts of the world; re-evaluating existing positions in the face of new challenges
Using best theoretical and empirical frameworks – striving to develop policies on the best conceptual framework and empirical evidence (from the CR and abroad)
Focusing activities on creating effective policy and strategy in CR – complementing academic institutions by formulating documents in an effective operational way
Challenges and their Management
Discussions with numerous civic and business leaders have indicated that the concept of IDEA is appealing and worth pursuing. The discussions also raised two issues that needed to be addressed in the preparatory phase. One is a guarantee of quality and the other one is political acceptability. We have worked on addressing both issues.
Quality. The issue of guarantee of quality arises because sponsors would naturally like to be assured that the project is likely to be implemented at the highest possible level. Our approach to this challenge is to ensure quality through excellence in leadership and institutional affiliation.
IDEA´s leadership will be provided by Professor Jan Svejnar who, assuming the think tank will obtain adequate funding, is willing to devote time and energy to ensure the success of this initiative. Professor Svejnar has a successful record of developing leading academic and think-tank institutions. In the Czech Republic, Jan Svejnar in 1991-1992 co-founded CERGE (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education of Charles University) and EI (Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic). The two institutions operate jointly under the name CERGE-EI (www.cerge-ei.cz), and have become the best economics graduate program and research institute in the country. In the United States, Professor Svejnar developed and during 1996-2004 directed the William Davidson Institute (www.wdi.umich.edu), a major think-tank dealing with business, economic and policy issues in emerging market economies. In Europe, Jan Svejnar co-developed and in 1995-2002 served as co-Director of the Transition Economies Programme of the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research (www.cepr.org), a leading European research institution and think-tank.
In terms of high quality institutional affiliation, after a careful consideration we have established IDEA as an autonomous part of EI on October 1, 2009. This ensures that IDEA benefits from EI resources and reputation as a leading institution of independent economic research. IDEA will hence benefit from EI, while at the same time complementing EI’s academic activities with policy-oriented research, conferences and other public events.
Political Acceptability. It is important that no significant part of the political spectrum in the Czech Republic rejects the concept of IDEA. We have achieved this by meeting with numerous political representatives to whom we explained our concept. The goal of these meetings was not to gain approval or favorable political view of IDEA, but rather to convince political leaders that IDEA will remain non-partisan and independent of political parties. We have thus secured a neutral attitude of the leaders of various parties towards IDEA.
We would welcome your willingness to provide support for IDEA.
Institute for Democracy and Economics Analysis (IDEA)
Project of the Economics Institute
Politických vězňů 7
110 00 Praha 1
Tel.: +420 224 005 132
Mob.: +420 723 311 342