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The best think-tanks and research institutes in Central Europe

Warsaw, Poland – Whether you’re a student working on a paper, a professional searching for reliable data, or simply a curious citizen, it can always be useful to know where to look for the most insightful analyses and consult with the most knowledgeable experts. Think tanks can be a goldmine of information… if you know where to look.

This list of the best think tanks and research institutes in Central Europe (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic), might come in handy, and is based on the Global Go To Think Tank Index, published annually by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the University of Pennsylvania. The index evaluates more than 6.000 of the world’s leading and most influential think tanks according to a set of criteria, ranking them by region, area of research and outstanding achievements.

The best think tanks in the world

Worldwide, more than 50% of the world’s think tanks are located either in North America or Europe (Russia included).

The ranking is dominated by the United States, which counts nearly 2.000 think tanks, followed by India and China (500), the U.K. (320), Argentina (230), Germany (220), Russia (215) and France (200). With 60 registered think tanks in the ranking, Poland stands well ahead of neighbouring Hungary (46 think tanks), Slovakia and the Czech Republic (27 each).

According to the Global Go To Think Tank Index, the best think tank in the world is the Brookings Institution (U.S.), followed by the Paris-based French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (U.S.).

The best think tanks in Poland

When it comes to Central Europe, one clear winner stands out: the Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE), in Poland, is the leading research institute among the Visegrad Group countries: CASE ranks 61st best think tank in the world, and is among the world’s top 10 in several categories, including social policy, domestic economic policy and international economics. It also ranks as the third best think-tank with “the most innovative policy ideas and proposals” and “the best new idea or paradigm” developed. It’s the best think tank in the world with a budget lower than $5 million.

Poland is also home to some of the region’s most innovative think tanks: the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) is ranked world’s 40th in the field of foreign policy and international affairs and in the top 100 for defense and national security-related matters. The Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) is the 20th best think tank in Central and Eastern Europe and a highly reliable source of information regarding Europe’s Eastern half. Let’s also mention the Warsaw-based WISE Europa, with a strong focus on European politics and economy; Casimir Pulaski Foundation (CPF),  60th best in the world for defense research; the Institute for Public Affairs, especially its education policy program; the Centre for International Relations (CIR) or the Stefan Batory Foundation, ranked 14th for the best advocacy campaign in the world.

The best think tanks in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the Prague Security Studies Institute (PSSI) is ranked among the world’s top 100 think tanks, especially in the fields of defense and national security, and identified as “one of the think tanks to watch in 2019”. Another prominent research institute is the Europeum Institute for European Policy, which specializes in EU affairs and policy-making, third best think tank in Central and Eastern Europe and ranked among the world’s top 50 for foreign policy and international affairs.

Let’s not forget the Center for Social and Economic Strategies (CESES), part of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University in Prague, number 8 worldwide in the education department; the Institute of International Relations (IIR), one of the leading Czech institutions for foreign affairs; or the Liberalni Institut (most of their publications are only in Czech language). The Association for International Affairs (AMO) is also among the best Czech think tanks and identified as one of the most promising institutions in the world (we’ve had the chance to sit down for an interview with their research director a few weeks ago). The Economics Institute CERGE-EI is among the best research centres in domestic economic policy and among the world’s top-performing university-affiliated think tanks.

The best think tanks in Hungary

The Center for Policy Studies (CPS) stands out as the best think tank in Hungary, placed 115th worldwide. Other outstanding Hungarian research centres include the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs (HIIA), the Center for Educational Policy Analysis (CEPA), number 11 worldwide in the education field; and the Center for Security and Defense Studies Foundation (CSDS), 11th best institution in Central and Eastern Europe and number 70 worldwide for foreign affairs and international relations.

Let’s also mention the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT), among the world’s top 100 for defense and national security-related matters; the Institute of World Economics for its research in international economics policy; the Center for Policy Studies (CPS), a department of the Central European University; the Hungarian Academy of Science’s Center for Economic and Regional Studies, among the world’s best for regional studies; finally, social policy research in Hungary is led by prominent TARKI Social Research Institute.

The best think tanks in Slovakia

Slovakia also counts some top-notch research centres. Among the most prestigious think tanks in Slovakia are the F.A. Hayek Foundation and the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (SFPA) an important institution ranked in the world’ top 100 think tanks for defense and national security issues. The Bratislava-based Globsec Policy Institute is also very reputable in foreign affairs and defense-related topics, and among the best in Central and Eastern Europe. In the field of education, the Slovak Governance Institute is  one of the best sources of information, ranked 35th best in the world for its research on education education policies.

Let’s end on a cross-national Central European note, with the Think Visegrad – V4 Think Tank Platform (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia) ranked as the 33rd best think tank network in the world.

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