In the past 75 years, since the establishment of its predecessor IUI, the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) has played a central role within business-relevant research and, thereby, also in the economic-political debate. An innumerable amount of influential inquiries and research reports have been authored at IFN. Generations of researchers have worked and grown at the Institute.
IFN has strengthened its operations significantly in the past decade. The number of full-time researchers has increased from 20 to 25, the number of research assistants from 2 to 4-5, and 6 PhD candidates are currently doing their dissertations at IFN. The Institute has developed a network of some 25 affiliated researchers from around Sweden and the world, each with formal contracts governing their commitments and right to resources.
Further to this, a number of organizational changes have been made with an eye to motivating and educating researchers to publish their work in leading journals, and take part in societal debate as and when appropriate. Within the area of communication, IFN has developed a number of new “products,” such as policy seminars which target a wider public and address relevant societal questions, as well as IFN’s electronic newsletter. Among domestic economic research environments, IFN is a leading contributor to the daily press. The Institute’s researchers have participated in several committees important to the development of business and the economy, such as the Globalization Committee and the Corporate Tax Committee, while IFN researchers have also authored a substantial number of reports for the Expert Group for Studies in the Public Economy (ESO).
IFN’s vision is to deliver research of the highest international quality in areas which are central to the development of business, and to be a trustworthy voice for the economy and trade in societal debate. On condition that IFN succeeds in living up to its own vision, there are a number of arguments why there is value in research financiers supporting the Institute’s operations.
IFN needs to secure a future in which questions of relevance to business are scientifically illuminated, where pluralism grows within the social scientific debate, where there is contact between the representatives of business and research, and where there is a broadening of the societal debate.
According to sources, 70 economists with PhDs were employed by the Swedish Central Bank in the summer of 2014. The trend is rising even in other parts of the state administration. If central management positions within the state administration require a doctoral degree, then there will be a demand that an improved basis for political decision-making be created by investigators with a scientific background, and that the basis for political decisions be scientifically founded.
IFN stands strong today, in its research, finances and personnel. We can report a high and, in recent times, strongly improved productivity. The fact is that 2014 was a record year in publishing for IFN. The number of international publications have never been so high and the previous record, when adjusted for journal quality, was roundly beaten. Equally, we recorded a new high in the number of published books during a single year.
International publication is the natural point of departure for all projects at IFN. This means that research reports are written with a view to be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This is necessary, partly because IFN researchers need to be competitive vis-a-vis other researchers, but also because international review and publication from a publisher other than IFN contributes a stamp of quality which gives IFN researchers greater weight and credibility. A lot has happened in this arena since IFN’s beginnings in 1939. During the first 35 years, the Institute’s researchers collectively produced just one article in an international journal. Today that has grown to about 40 articles per year.
In order to remain at the forefront of both research and the more policy- and debate-oriented parts of the operation, we must manage and build further upon our own heritage, maintaining and re-creating the conditions which characterize successful intellectual environments.
I am convinced that IFN has all the potential to live on and flourish long into the future, as long as the organization maintains high quality, that is world-class academic contribution, and that business relevance continues to be an important driver in our choice of perspective and inquiry.