CMI STRATEGY 2017–2021

Knowledge for global development and justice

For almost 90 years, CMI has addressed real-world challenges by combining research excellence with dedicated efforts to make new knowledge available for practical use.

We are excited to present a new strategy anchored in this legacy, reaffirming our commitment to research excellence, relevance and impact.

CMI’s founder, the late Christian Michelsen, believed in knowledge as a means to bridge divides between nations and build more peaceful and amicable human relations. The mission he imprinted on the institute – to contribute to increased tolerance and mutual understanding between nations and peoples – expresses our deepest purpose.

We carry this mission forward by devoting our time, talents and efforts to developing new knowledge that addresses the huge global inequalities in human life conditions. To ensure a more inclusive path of global development is indeed the greatest challenge of our time.

More than ever, society expects research institutions to generate knowledge that can solve real-world problems. CMI will work untiringly to meet these expectations, through an ambitious agenda of research and knowledge exchange. This strategy will guide our efforts.

Ottar Mæstad, Director

The changing context

Life conditions have improved remarkably in most countries during the past decades. Extreme poverty is declining. More children go to school, and both maternal and child survival have increased.

Yet, almost a billion people continue to live in extreme poverty. Many more still live under precarious conditions. Inequalities between the rich and the poor are growing. Elite capture and unequal access to power and influence undermine democratic gains. Women’s rights are under pressure. Rapid population growth and lack of employment for young generations threaten possibilities for economic progress. Climate change impairs the livelihoods of vulnerable communities. Conflicts and insecurity hamper development processes, and mass migration creates both challenges and opportunities.

Knowledge is a key factor for addressing complex global challenges.

Knowledge is a key factor for addressing these complex challenges. The Sustainable Development Goals outline a broad development agenda for the coming years. Herein lie great opportunities for CMI and our partners to make important contributions.

Development aid agencies are redefining their role and priorities. Western countries have lost power with the emergence of new development actors and the declining share of aid in the capital flows to poor countries. Rapid economic growth in parts of the developing world and increased attention to global challenges that directly affect rich countries, such as climate, security and migration, lead to changes in development aid budgets.

The research landscape is also changing. Expectations for research excellence, relevance and impact are increasing. Competition for research funding is becoming more international. In the development area, greater attention to results of development aid ought to create demand for research-based knowledge. Yet, funding for develop-ment research has become less predictable. Research institutions in low- and middle-income countries are growing stronger, creating both new opportunities to deepen our research partnerships and new challenges to ensure we provide real value added to our partners.

We will work hard to seize the opportunities and rise to the challenges of a changing context.

We will work hard to seize the opportunities and rise to the challenges of a changing context. To succeed, it is essential that we cooperate well, both with external partners and with each other in strong teams.

Our purpose

Address global development challenges – by providing research-based knowledge that informs and inspires policy and practice.

Our role is to generate and communicate research-based knowledge that contribute to understanding and addressing development challenges.

Our primary audiences are national and international actors who influence international development.

Our research focus is on challenges facing poor and vulnerable groups.

Our work shall promote understanding between nations and peoples.

Main goal

Be an internationally recognized research institute with impact on development policy and practice

Strategic goals

  1. Enhance the impact of CMIs research
  2. Foster an enabling work environment
  3. Increase and diversify funding
  4. Build partnerships

Goal 1

Enhance the impact of CMI’s research

We will combine a challenge-driven research agenda with research excellence and interaction with key users.

A challenge-driven research:

  • Provide new knowledge to

Reduce poverty and inequalities

Build accountable and inclusive institutions

Promote peace, security, and human rights

  • Be an internationally recognized provider of research-based evaluations of development interventions.
  • Develop the U4 Anti-corruption Centre as the leading knowledge hub on how to limit the harmful effects of corruption on development.

Research excellence:

  • Build all our research on rigorous methods and analysis, and high ethical standards.
  • Maintain high quality and increase the volume of publications in peer-reviewed outlets.
  • Engage in networks with internationally leading researchers.

Interaction with users:

  • Engage in dialogue with development actors – to bring new perspectives to discussions about development policy and practice, and to identify knowledge gaps.
  • Develop and implement research uptake strategies in all major research projects.
  • Be at the forefront in digital research communication.

Goal 2

Foster an enabling work environment

A positive work environment, where we can excel as individuals and teams, is crucial to seizing the opportunities and managing the challenges we face.

  • Work in teams, across disciplines and professions.
  • Foster teams that commit to ambitious goals, share responsibilities, facilitate innovation and learning, and are built on trust.
  • Recruit and develop leaders who motivate and support individuals and teams to grow and excel.

Goal 3

Increase and diversify funding

Expanding our funding base will enable us to provide relevant knowledge to new clients and reduce our economic vulnerability.

  • Pursue a wide range of national and international funding opportunities.
  • Develop and implement strategies in all research groups for promoting our research and competence to potential funders.
  • Develop individual skills and institutional support for entrepreneurial activities.
  • Establish efficient systems for monitoring national and international project opportunities, and for supporting acquisition processes.
  • Ensure a productive balance between long-term and short-term funding.

Goal 4

Build partnerships

Institutional partnerships are essential to making an impact and strengthening our international competitiveness.

  • Build long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with research institutions in countries where we work. Build capacity for applied research in partner institutions when requested.
  • Develop strategic alliances with the University of Bergen and the Norwegian School of Economics to strengthen Bergen as an international hub for research on global development challenges.
  • Develop new strategic partnerships, especially with European institutions.

Our values

Curious and innovative

  • We strive to continuously learn and grow.
  • We look for how knowledge can make a difference.
  • We encourage innovation.

Respectful and generous

  • We strive for honest and respectful communication with everyone.
  • We foster cooperation built on trust and generosity.
  • We share knowledge and ideas, listen carefully to others, and value diversity.


  • We deliver high quality work.
  • We are accountable and transparent.
  • We impose high standards of integrity and ethics on our work and conduct.

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