Photo: Liv Tønnessen

Who we are

We are a social science research institute addressing issues that shape global developments.

CMI is an independent development research institute in Norway. With a staff of 100 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. 

CMI Strategy 2023–2028


Read CMI's strategy for 2023–2028

The CMI Board

Synnøve Kristine Nepstad Bendixsen

Chair, Board of Chr. Michelsen Institute; Head of Department, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen

Alexander Cappelen

Chair, Board of Chr. Michelsen Fund and Nationalgaven til Chr. Michelsen, NHH Norwegian School of Economics

Andrew Norton

Director, International Institute for environment and Development (iied)

Catharina Bu

Secretary-General, The United Nations Association of Norway (UNA Norway)

Matthew Gichohi

Post Doctoral Researcher

Sofie Arjon Schütte

Senior Adviser (U4)

Aksel Mjeldheim

Head of IT Section


In 2018, the total turnover was NOK 77, 0 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 financed 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 (CMR), jointly owned by CMI and the University of Bergen (CMR was in 2018 incorporated into NORCE). 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.

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 of NOK 50 000 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 as Prime Minister in 1907. The prize was first awarded in 2014.

Chr. Michelsens pris for fremragende utviklingsforskning

Chr. Michelsens pris for fremragende utviklingsforskning skal synliggjøre og inspirere til utviklingsrelatert forskning av høy kvalitet og relevans.

Prisen er på 50 000 kroner og 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 ble tildelt første gang i 2014.

Webside for Chr. Michelsens pris