We create knowledge
that improves lives

At Chr. Michelsen Institute we create and communicate research-based knowledge to enable initiatives
to fight poverty, inequality and injustice and ensure sustainable development.

About CMI

CMI is an independent development research institute in Bergen, Norway. We generate and communicate research-based knowledge relevant for fighting poverty, advancing human rights, reducing conflict and promoting sustainable social development. CMI’s research focuses on local and global challenges and opportunities facing low- and middle-income countries and their citizens. Our geographic orientation is towards Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

CMI Strategy 2017-2021


In 2015, the total turnover was NOK 76, 8 million.

CMI receives core funding through the Research Council of Norway (NFR) from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. Most of our income comes from research grants and commissioned studies.

Main sources:

  • The Research Council of Norway
  • Bilateral aid system
  • Multilateral aid system

Main clients include:

An Institute for Science and Intellectual Freedom

The Chr. Michelsen Institute for Science and Intellectual Freedom is named after Christian Michelsen (1857-1925), one of the great Norwegians of the 20th century. He was prime minister and led Norway's peaceful dissolution from the union with Sweden and the establishment of an independent Norwegian state in 1905.

(Peter) Christian (Hersleb Kjerschow) Michelsen was born in Bergen, 15 March 1857. A lawyer by profession, Michelsen was a major shiping magnate and politician. He was Mayor of Bergen, longtime member of Stortinget (Parliament), Finance Minister and Prime Minister.

He died in 1925 and bequeathed his wealth to the establishment of a foundation for science and intellectual freedom. The Chr. Michelsen Institute was established on the founder's birthday, 15 March 1930. In his will Michelsen specified four areas of priority: humanities, natural sciences, technology and medicine and "cultural and scientific work to foster tolerance between nations and races - religious, social, economic and political." It was the latter that justified a focus on development issues.

The First Private Research Institute in Norway

Christian Michelsen wanted to give particularly promising researchers excellent working conditions: they were to have no teaching or administrative duties and they were to be well paid. At the outset, a group of gifted, young men were given the title "members of the institute" conducting independent research in natural sciences and social sciences.

With the arrival of the economist Just Faaland in 1952 and the political scientist Stein Rokkan in 1958, everything changed. They initiated and developed broader research programmes and employed more people. They fianced the expansion through participation in international research programmes and by mobilising other financial resources. In 1961 they had defined research programmes in international economics and comparative politics.


In 1965, the Development Action and Research Programme (DERAP), a development economics project on growth problems in developing countries. was formally established. The DERAP model combined research work at the Institute in Bergen with applied and practical work in developing countries, a model to which CMI still adheres. DERAP gradually recruited other social scientists in addition to the economists.

The Chr. Michelsen Institute - CMI

In the early 1980s, Just Faaland established a Human Rights Programme which soon grew to become the other main focus in social science research.

In 1992, the Department for Natural Science and Technology split and established the Chr. Michelsen Research AS, jointly owned by CMI and the University of Bergen. The Department of Social Science and Development became the Chr. Michelsen Institute. DERAP and the Human Rights Programmed merged, and research became the main objective. Practical work in developing countries is still important, but longterm assignments are replaced by shorter missions and research-co-operation in the South.

Research Partners

CMI has an extensive network of international contacts and research partners. With some key institutions, there are formal collaboration agreements. The agreements facilitate joint research and include institutional development, competence building and the development of projects of mutual interest.

Other forms of co-operation include research, consultancies, staff exchange, student teaching and tutoring, advanced training, information technology, library support and publication exchanges.

Active and Formal Institutional Co-operation with Research Institutes and Universities





  • Instituto Torcato Di Talla
















South Africa

Sri Lanka





United Kingdom



Regional Networks

Annual Report 2016

The Chr. Michelsen Prize for Outstanding Development Research

The Chr. Michelsen prize for outstanding development research (NOK 50 000) is to promote and inspire development related research of high quality and relevance. The price is awarded biannually by the fond «Nationalgaven til Chr. Michelsen» (the National gift to Chr. Michelsen), which was a gift from the Norwegian people to Christian Michelsen when he resigned in 1907. The prize was first awarded in 2014. The prize is awarded to a reseracher below 40 years of age who lives in Norway, for an outstanding peer reviewed article.

Prize webpage (in Norwegian)

---- in Norwegian

Chr. Michelsens pris for fremragende utviklingsforskning

Chr. Michelsens pris for fremragende utviklingsforskning (kr 50 000) skal synliggjøre og inspirere til utviklingsrelatert forskning av høy kvalitet og relevans.

Prisen tildeles annethvert år av Fondet «Nationalgaven til Chr. Michelsen», som er det norske folks gave til Chr. Michelsen ved hans avgang som statsminister i 1907. Prisen tildeles første gang i 2014.

Prisen tildeles forskere under 40 år for fremragende vitenskapelig artikkel innen utviklingsrelaterte studier. Arbeidet bedømmes etter vitenskapelig kvalitet og relevans. Prisen skal fortrinnsvis benyttes til vitenskapelige formål.

Prisen tildeles på Chr. Michelsens fødselsdag 15. mars. Styret kan velge et annet fast tidspunkt for tildelingen.

Kandidater til prisen kan nomineres av enkeltpersoner eller institusjoner innen 15. januar 2014. Kandidater må ha bopel i Norge og/eller være norsk statsborger.  Arbeider som nomineres til prisen må være publisert i løpet av de to foregående år. Arbeider som ble publisert i 2012 eller 2013 kan nomineres til prisen i 2014. Nominering skjer til styret.

Nærmere retningslinjer

Forfatter av arbeidet må være under 40 år når prisen tildeles. Ved medforfatterskap skal arbeidet i hovedsak være utført av forfatter(e) under 40 år.

Arbeider fra alle fagdisipliner, inkludert tverrfaglige arbeider, kan nomineres. Alle har adgang til å nominere, men ledelsen ved forskningsinstitusjoner oppfordres spesielt til å nominere aktuelle kandidater. Det er anledning til egennominering, og det er anledning til å nominere flere kandidater.

Ved vurdering av arbeidene legges det vekt på vitenskapelig kvalitet og relevans. Kvalitet bedømmes etter standard vitenskapelige kriterier. Relevans bedømmes i forhold til arbeidets bidrag til å forstå og eller løse de særskilte sosiale, økonomiske og miljømessige utfordringer lav- og mellominntektsland står overfor. Det er anledning til å gjøre nærmere rede for arbeidets relevans ved nomineringen.

Prisens jury har tre medlemmer oppnevnt av styret i Fondet for Nationalgaven til Chr. Michelsen. Minst to av medlemmene skal ha vitenskapelig kompetanse og minst ett medlem skal ha erfaring fra utviklingsarbeid.

Webside for Chr. Michelsens pris

For Students

CMI provides opportunities for Master's students and has 8 working spaces for Master's students. We welcome social science students who wants to write their thesis on one of our core topics. Most of our studnets are political scientists, anthropologists or economists, but we also have students from the arts and humanities,and law students. 

We are not an educational institution and unfortunately we do not have any scholarships.

Contact CMI

We welcome your interest in our activities. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information or comments:

Chr. Michelsen Institute
P.O. Box 6033, N-5892 Bergen, Norway
Street address: Jekteviksbakken 31
Phone: +47 47 93 80 00
Fax: +47 55 31 03 13
E-mail: cmi@cmi.no

Where to find us:

Who we are

CMI is an independent development research institute in Norway. With a staff of 70 people, we address issues that shape global developments and generate knowledge that can be used to fight poverty, advance human rights, and promote sustainable social development.

Our researchers and programme advisors are social scientists mainly in the fields of anthropology, economics and political science. The pillars of our work are quality research, diversity in disciplines and methods and extensive research communication.  We work closely with partners in the global South to ensure that local perspectives influence our priorities and research questions.

CMI employs staff with a wide range of complementary competencies and we are committed to building strong teams in all parts of the organization. We strive to be an efficient, professional, and financially robust organization that brings out the best in each other.

CMI is located on the campus of the University of Bergen in the city centre. We cooperate closely with the University and the Norwegian School of Economics. Together with the University we have established the Bergen Resource Centre for International Development, a venue for dialogue and communication on global challenges.

CMI Annual Report for 2017

The Board

The CMI Board

Research Partners

CMI benefits from an extensive network of cooperating researchers and institutions in the South. We aim to be relevant. Our partners improve our understanding of development challenges and processes. We aim to inform policy. By working together we can be more effective in communicating research-based knowledge to decision makers. 

We have worked closely with some of our research partners for decades. Our cooperation with the University of Khartoum stretches back to the 70's. Others partners are of a more recent date. We keep extending our network through active participation in research consortiums, in national and international debates, and by building on our researchers' networks. Among our partners in the South are universities, research institutes, think tanks, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations. They all contribute to make sure that we are abreast with recent developments in the countries we work in and the topics we work on.

For Students

CMI provides opportunities for Master's students to write their thesis at CMI.  

Students are part of the daily life at CMI, adding new perspectives to our work. Many of our students go on to work within academia, as PhD students and research assistants. Students are given a personal working space in a reading room, subsidised lunch at CMI canteen and have easy access to our specialised library at the Bergen Resource Centre for International Development.  

Students participate in research group meetings and will be able to present chapters of their thesis to a cross-disciplinary group. They are assigned a contact person at CMI who is relevant to their research.


For Students - How to apply

How to apply

To apply, please write an application which includes a short project proposal (up to one page), CV, university transcripts and a letter of recommendation from your supervisor to: Ingvild Hestad (ingvild.hestad@cmi.no)
Subject: "Student application"

Please note that we are not an educational institution and unfortunately we do not have any scholarships. Your grade point average must be B.

Other students, volunteers, interns, etc.

CMI sometimes accepts applications from the above groups and others. Since these fall outside the usual student program and staff positions available at CMI, it is recommended that candidates present their applications through the institutions to which they are affiliated.

Any questions? Contact Ingvild Hestad

For Students - Themes

To be a successful applicant you should be working with issues related to one of CMI's topics:

Conflict and Security
Natural Resources
Public Finance
Rights and Law


What we do

Our research is grounded in theory and often based on extensive fieldwork. Our research benefits from a blend of academically and operationally oriented work. Academic research ensures that we maintain our scientific standards through publications in peer reviewed outlets. Operationally oriented research brings us closer to practitioners and policy makers, suggests new research questions, and creates platforms for research communication. Our research is funded by research grants and commissioned studies.

As an applied research institute the CMI approach is to introduce theory and methodology from our academic research into commissioned evaluations. The overall aim is to contribute to change in best practice within the Norwegian aid system. We work closely with clients to facilitate research uptake, by way of a variety of tools: workshops with stakeholders, presentations and policy briefs, interaction with media, and publication of findings in international peer-reviewed journals. CMI has conducted a number of evaluations of the Norwegian system for aid evaluations. These have been critical reviews of the way evaluations have been conducted in Norway, with recommendations for improvements of the evaluability of aid projects.

We offer training on anti-corruption issues for the partner agencies of the U4 Anti-Corruption Centre, and for their invited partners.  We provide a range of online and in-country anti-corruption courses, tailored to the needs of donor agency staff, and based on research findings and the experience of professionals and practitioners in the field.

Capacity Building
Several of our institutional partnership agreements aim to build research capacity in our partner institutions through research collaboration. Upon request, we also offer courses on specific topics and training in research methodology to partner institutions.

Evidence Review
Science is a cumulative process. Few studies are by themselves convincing enough to change policy or practice. We provide knowledge syntheses that summarize and evaluate the evidence base relevant for specific policy questions. 

Communication and Dialogue
Our research and expertise is relevant to a varied audience from policy-makers to academia. We promote research uptake through targeted communication with those who can change policy, practice and public opinion. We also engage with practitioners and policy makers to ensure the relevance of our work.