Charles de Gaulle famously said that politics is too serious to leave it to politicians. Just to paraphrase it, diplomacy is too complex to be conducted only by diplomats. Even old pros need “partners in crime”, meaning – some wise people that will advise on what to do when times get tough, drawing from their knowledge and experience.
This is when and where think-tanks step in.
They do so with the most credible experts they hire, aiming at providing decision-makers with expertise concerning public policy solutions.
As many of you know, I have been cooperating with think-tanks throughout my whole career and analysed them quite broadly. What I realised very early was that think-tanks are indispensable for an expertise/knowledge-based foreign policy as well as for an effective public diplomacy.
OK, so where and how can we find them?
Some time ago I wrote a guide through the best – in my opinion – think-tanks in Europe (Part I, Part II and Part III are available). As I have received many questions concerning Polish think-tanks, I decided to write something separate about them. Today I deliver the first part of a working guide around the world of Polish think-tanks. The second part will be published next week.
Please feel free to contact me if you think that other entities should be included in this guide. I will be very happy to expand it.
Here is my selection, with all the links you may need.
(wherever possible – you will be transferred to the English language versions of websites).
Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM – Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych): the biggest analytical institute in Poland, located in Warsaw, focused on international relations and foreign policy. It is a public entity, supervised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and hence, advises especially the government and public administration. Through its vast expertise, tens of analysts and a wide network of contacts, it is very much present and acknowledged in public debates on international relations and engages in international projects. It covers many fields, from the issues concerning the eurozone, through the transatlantic ties and a difficult landscape of West-Russia relations, towards the economic boom in Asia and an assertive foreign policy of China. There is probably no foreign policy question that PISM’s experts could not answer or discuss. Just try! PISM also has one of the best (if not the best) international relations’ focused libraries in Poland. Their flagship annual event is called the Global Forum and usually is organised in June in Wroclaw. The institute also publishes “The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs” with outstanding pieces delivered by both Polish and foreign experts.
Center for Eastern Studies (OSW – Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich): OSW is a public entity (supervised by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister) operating in Warsaw, and a global leader in expertise on the former USSR (they do expand their programmes concerning Central Europe, Germany and Turkey, too). They do not organise much of public diplomacy endeavours, but if you want to understand, why Vladimir Putin is still in power, what has just happened in Armenia, how big are Kazakhstan’s chances to thrive economically and how big are chances of the Ukrainian youth to improve the country’s politics – get in touch with the OSW’s analysts. The Center was established at the beginning of the 1990s and stemmed from the passion of a few analysts and activists. This passion is still visible in the works of the Center analysts’, from short Commentaries to shrewd Studies, Reports and Analyses. The majority of their writings is available in English.
Institute for East-Central Europe (IEŚW – Instytut Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej): another public research institute, supervised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, located in Lublin in Eastern Poland. It is a small, but a very passionate team of political scientists and historians, who specialise especially in the cultural, religious and social history of the region of Central-Eastern Europe, including the history of migration and minorities. The institute also has a wide expertise and a very good network concerning the history of Russia and conducts specialised research on the issue (including a project with Russian academics on joint materials for history teachers). The institute publishes books, studies and analyses in Polish, English and Russian, i.e. the prestigious “Yearbook of the Institute of East-Central Europe” and “Commentaries IESW”.
Institute for Western Affairs (IZ – Instytut Zachodni): a public research institute, supervised by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, located in Poznań in Western Poland. This institute has a long tradition – it was established in 1944 and survived the communist times in Poland. Its main focus is Germany and Polish-German relations, but studies concerning the European Union, the region of Central Europe as well as security policy and transatlantic relations, are also covered by the institute’s analysts. The institute owns a very good library and archive with the biggest collection of studies on Germany in Poland. It publishes extensively and specialises in monographs and policy papers. Some of them are available in English and German.
Centre of International Relations (CSM – Centrum Stosunków Międzynarodowych): a private think-tank, operating for more than 20 years in Warsaw. It is known for its well-established tradition of studies on European Union and NATO affairs as well as Polish-German relations and Eastern Partnership. Nevertheless, the Centre runs also projects of a global character and cooperates with partners in India, China, Israel and others. I would describe the Centre as one of the agilest think-tanks in Poland. Due to the variety and diversity of experts who contribute to the works of the Centre, this think-tanks is able to cooperate broadly with equally diverse foreign partners and provide both knowledge and engagement into their joint projects.
Centre for Social and Economic Research – CASE: a private scientific foundation based in Warsaw and operating since 1991. It was established by experts involved in the transformation processes in Poland, and in the first years focused especially on transformation in Poland and the region. Today, CASE conducts research in such fields as economic growth and trade, labour markets, fiscal policy, social policy, demographics, innovation, energy and climate policies – and operates globally. Its activities are funded in majority by the EU funds (i.e. the European Commission), and some projects are funded by the Polish and foreign public and private sectors. CASE cooperates extensively with more than 1000 (!) experts and participates in various research networks worldwide. It publishes working papers, policy briefs, and reports both in Polish and English.
Jagiellonian Club’s Centre of Analysis (Centrum Analiz Klubu Jagiellońskiego): this private think-tank is located in Cracow and has been operating since 2015 but already has a steady position in the expert world in Poland. It is a conservative entity, providing extensive analysis and being very active in such areas as good governance, civil society, public policies and foreign policy of Poland. It has been established by the Jagiellonian Club, a conservative association with 25 years of tradition and experience in running the modern patriotism academy, organising discussions, delivering papers and publishing (in Polish) a well-known quarterly “Pressje”, delivering thought-provoking articles on governance, politics, sociology and culture.
Polityka Insight: a private business and political consultancy, operating in Warsaw since 2013 within a capital group of “Tygodnik Polityka” weekly. Today, “Polityka Insight” employs over 30 people. It conducts analysis in such fields as Poland’s domestic politics, finance, energy, industry, legislation, European affairs and geopolitics. It runs specialised analysis services: PI Premium, PI Finance and PI Energy (in Polish and English) and broadcasts its own podcast (in Polish). Since 2016 “Polityka Insight” organises an annual, flagship conference “Risks and Trends” where guests from all over the world discuss global and regional challenges of traditional (for example – geopolitical) and modern (for example – 3D printing as a risk for security policies) character. The conference is held in English in 100%.
WISE Europa: a private think-tank operating in Warsaw, a result of a 2016 merger between the Warsaw Institute for Economic Studies and demosEuropa, a very well known Polish think-tank focused on the EU affairs. Since then, it mixes and melts an extensive macroeconomic analysis with an EU portfolio. WISE Europa runs 5 main programmes: public policy and governance, economics and economic policy, digital economy and technology, foreign policy and international affairs, as well as energy, climate and environment. It cooperates both with public and private sectors and delivers analysis for Polish and foreign entities. Its analysis is based on independent research and an evidence-based approach.
Casimir Pulaski Foundation (Fundacja im. Kazimierza Pułaskiego): an independent think-tank operating in Warsaw, cooperating with over 60 experts. It organises an annual flagship international conference “Warsaw Security Forum” and cooperates closely with the European Academy of Diplomacy, as well as with the Women in International Security Poland. It focuses mainly on security affairs and runs six programmes within this field: security and defence, cybersecurity, economy and energy, simulations and war games, international politics, peace and stability. From another angle, the foundation focuses its research on the transatlantic and post-Soviet areas. It publishes in Polish and English in the formats of reports, policy papers and commentaries.
Part II of this miniseries will be published next week. Please contact me if you feel that some think-tanks should have been included, but were not. I truly hope the list of think-tanks in Poland will expand.
I wrote about think-tanks also here:
This series is inspired by the “Global Go To Think Tank Index Report”, developed annually by the team led by Professor James G. McGann within the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Society Program.