CEPII Evaluation ReportOn 14 September 2015, Mr. Jean Lemierre, President of CEPII's Board, instructed Mr. François Bourguignon, director of studies at EHESS and emeritus professor at the Paris School of Economics, to conduct an evaluation of CEPII, and more specifically on: a) CEPII's works during the last five years and their impact on different audiences; b) the relevance of the objectives set at CEPII and the adequacy of resources for their accomplishment.
- Report Abtract
- Note d’orientation de la direction du CEPII à la suite du rapport d’évaluation
This mission was carried out by a group of four experts. In addition to the President, it included:
- Sandrine Duchêne, former chief economist at the Treasury Department and currently director of public affairs at AXA,
- Jaime de Melo, Professor at the University of Geneva,
- André Sapir, Professor at the Free University of Brussels.
Thomas Grjebine economist CEPII, officiated as rapporteur.
The panel conducted the hearing of a number of officials, users of CEPII's work, heads of similar institutions, academics, former directors, actual management team and some staff members (see list of interviews in the appendix). The evaluation team also leaned on a set of documents: the annual activity reports, working programs, annual reports of CEPII' Scientific Committee and, more broadly, the various publications available online.
The group met four times to discuss the points mentioned in the engagement letter. The following report and its annexes are the result of this joint reflection, moreover consensual.
This report evaluated CEPII’s work over the last five years and its impact on different audiences, starting with an inventory. Since 2003, CEPII’s permanent staff decreased from 45 to 35 in 2016 (10 in management and support, 25 in research), not including 14 scientific advisors (university-based researchers). Despite budget cuts over the past 10 years, the number of scientific advisors increased. A high turnover rate (25% over the last 3 years) in the permanent team seems to be related to the lack of career prospects at CEPII (modest salary progression compared to the University and other major research centers).
CEPII has four scientific programs, "International Trade Analysis" and "Trade Policies" concerning international trade; "Macroeconomics and international finance"; and "Emerging Economies and International Migration". CEPII produces and maintains databases on trade and firms. Production of working papers and publications in scientific journals is somewhat higher than the international standards (see Table 1). CEPII occupies a very honorable rank on a recognized bibliographic database. However it appears that there is room for improvement. The visibility of CEPII has increased in recent years, the number of citations in the press have doubled over the last four years.
Strengths and weaknesses
Officials consulted were unanimous: the main force of the Centre clearly lies in the area of international trade, for which it is recognized in academic and policy making circles. The picture is more mixed for the other two programs. The "Macroeconomics and International Finance" program operates in areas where competition in France and abroad is tougher. The fields are also more numerous and complex in a globalized world, leading to dispersion of projects. In the program "Emerging Economies and International Migration", CEPII has a good expertise on some of the "major emerging countries" through occasional work, but does not cover all the aspects by which these economies weigh on global economy. As for the International Migration part, international competition is fierce, and CEPII must clearly, due to its mission, develop work in this area. But the dominant impression from reading research projects and working papers is here also the risk of scattering.
As for research programs, the team working on trade could improve further by expanding its collaborations with leading experts in the field. For the program "International Macroeconomics", the construction or adaptation of existing databases –such as bilateral investment flows- could lead to synergies with the trade program. It would also be possible to develop medium-term macroeconomic models focused for example on the real exchange rate, creating then a link with multi-region models for trade. The "Emerging and international migration" could too be added to this medium-term perspective of macroeconomics through international migration anticipation.
As for the institutional organization of CEPII, the mix of academic research center, think tank and public service fits perfectly CEPII’s original mission. The evaluation group could also notice the lack of career attractiveness for full time researchers, regarding wage progression of staff getting a permanent contract after 6 years.
CEPII was created in 1978 to remedy the weakness of international economics in France. Nearly 40 years down the road, it can be asserted that the bet has paid off. France has a research center scrutinizing and analyzing carefully the evolution of the world economy. For the evaluation team, CEPII must not only be maintained but even reinforced.
Refocusing "Macroeconomics" and "Emerging countries and Migration" on global macroeconomics over medium to long term, in order to maximize the externalities within these programs possibly merged, and including also trade programs is advisable. If the collaboration between young researchers and academics scientific advisors has worked so far, it will be difficult for CEPII to expand in the directions mentioned above, under the constraint of a decrease in number of jobs.
Finally, in CEPII’s mission of information, special emphasis should be put on a targeted and educational communication vis-à-vis economic press. At another level, synergies with France Strategy in communication and information operations could be expanded while respecting the autonomy of the CEPII.