Our Mission

Understanding and Shaping Globalization

To sharpen its field of work the Institute identified five challenges under the broad heading of sustainability and inclusive prosperity.

Exploring the drivers behind global developments and problems and providing solutions is more relevant today than ever. Accordingly, the Kiel Institute continues to sharpen its unique profile by focusing its research, think-tank, and educational activities primarily on issues of global urgency.

Since its establishment in 1914, the key mission of the Kiel Institute has centered on understanding the drivers of, and barriers to, globalization. The nature of globalization, however, has changed fundamentally in the meantime. After a century of unprecedented shocks and collapses in global market integration, followed by equally unprecedented periods of recovery and rejuvenation, the world economy is now more interconnected than at any time in history, with most goods and services being produced in multiple countries. The world has also benefited from huge progress in fighting poverty, raising life expectancy, boosting health, and improving people’s skills.

These developments have been associated with new global economic opportunities that cannot be fully exploited by countries acting in isolation. The greatest opportunities are to be found in areas, such as macroeconomic stability, economic growth, natural resource management, the management of global value chains, and technology transfer from rich to poor countries.

At the same time, the world has witnessed a dramatic intensification and proliferation of global economic, political, and social problems, ranging from climate change to financial crises and from food insecurity to inequality—to name but a few. Some of these problems (e.g., climate change and financial crises) transcend national boundaries, meaning that no country can tackle them on its own. Others are intrinsically national (e.g., food security) or regional (e.g., unemployment, inequality, and poverty) but are nonetheless globally interlinked.

Globally Connected: As an institute focusing on global economic affairs, the Kiel Institute strives to be nationally and internationally visible, connected, and to collaborate with a large number of universities and non-university research centers, think tanks and service institutions. All Research Areas and Policy Centers are participating in national or international networks and collaborative projects. The Institute also encourages and financially supports staff members to visit other academic and think tank institutions both in order to upgrade skills and to establish joint research projects. Another facet of networking and cooperation is to host external researchers and experts at the Kiel Institute.

The Kiel Institute considers itself to be the only German research institute—and one of the few worldwide—whose research, think-tank and educational/service activities are focused primarily on these global problems and opportunities. To further hone its focus, the Institute has identified five challenges and fall under the broad heading of “Sustainable and Inclusive Prosperity in a Globalized World.”

In its activities, the Kiel Institute:

  • aims to promote a broad understanding of human well-being, given the increasing divergence between economic and social progress. On the one hand, most people around the world are far more prosperous, healthier, better fed, less threatened by violence, and live longer than ever before. On the other hand, populism, nationalism, and religious and ethnic conflicts are on the rise.
  • often pursues an interdisciplinary approach, since many problems and opportunities arise from a nexus of interconnected economic, political, environmental, and social phenomena.
  • seeks to achieve closer coordination of economic, environmental, and social policymaking in its think-tank activities. This means that, wherever possible, it adopts an approach to economic policy that includes not just conventional allocation and distribution issues but also encompasses social norms and values, cultural phenomena, political processes, and planetary boundaries.
  • interacts with various partners from around the world to jointly create knowledge and disseminate insights. The extensive network depicted below includes research institutions, individual researchers, and think tanks as well as stakeholders from politics, business, and civil society.