The Economic and Social Studies Conference Committee founded in 1961 under the leadership of Dr Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı pioneered not only the establishment of free discussion platforms about various topics, but also put serious effort in assisting the decision making bodies by organizing conferences, panels and meetings as well as through its publications. By the 1990s, as the dynamics of the period indicated the need for new endeavors which would go beyond the previous ones, similar initiatives aiming to develop policy recommendations based on research findings were introduced in various universities and NGOs. Since this need for change and innovation necessitated the establishment of a new organization built upon the rich experience and intellectual capital of the Conference Committee, the decision to turn the Economic and Social Studies Conference Committee into a “strategic research institution” by the name of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) was taken in 1994.
From its establishment in 1994 until 2004, TESEV produced significant reports on poverty, economy and sectorial policies. In the beginning of 2004, by relatively altering its study fields, TESEV decided to reorganize its studies under three headings: Democratization, Good Governance and Transparency, Foreign Policy. All three programs were organized with advisory committees consisting of opinion leaders and academics as well as expert staff responsible for these programs.
Until the end of 2014, TESEV diversified and expanded its sources of funds. According to the 2012 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, TESEV ranked 77th out of the top 100 think tanks in the world while ranking 12th in foreign policy and social relations in the world and 4th in the Middle East and North Africa region.
At the Regular General Assembly which took place in February 2015, a new Executive Board was elected to TESEV. During the same period, there was also a change in the research team of TESEV who constituted the three-program-structure of the foundation. These institutional changes, when the reshaping of the societal and political conjuncture and the direct impact of technological transformations on information generation and sharing are taken into account, are believed to present TESEV with a window of opportunity. The new Executive Board has already indicated the start of a new era for TESEV with the activities it has undertaken until now.
What changes will be made in TESEV while abiding by the objective to develop policy recommendations in light of scientific research to issues waiting to be resolved? These could be categorized under three headings: TESEV’s new research fields, the organization of research at TESEV and the dissemination of the research findings.
TESEV’s new research fields have been determined as follows:
TESEV’s Executive Board and its researchers are currently working on the preparation of extensive research programs under these fields. Research Programs will prepare a research calendar which would evaluate the subject in a multidimensional way in accordance with its short, medium and long term objectives. Within this framework, TESEV will also work as an observatory which would follow and assess the studies conducted by other institutions on the aforementioned subjects.