Can donors direct the outcome of IEA research or define our conclusions?
As an educational charity we value the independence of our research. Anybody can suggest topics for us to research, including the content that a report might cover. Funders can also support a programme of work, such as the output of our Regulatory Affairs Unit. However, funders are not permitted to influence the conclusions of our analysis. Not across a programme, nor within a single publication, nor any communication about it. We have strict rules to protect our independence, including clear guidance to potential donors, and a system of peer review.
To be crystal clear, we do not want bodies to approach us to ‘buy research’. The answer will be no. The question itself represents a fundamental misunderstanding of both the IEA and the sector. The value of think tanks is in increasing public understanding of important concepts through well-researched ideas, and their compelling explanation. That goal requires respect for our independence and expertise.
For example, in the context of climate change, regardless as to who funds us, the IEA approaches the topic from the perspective of whether free markets or other institutions of a free society can provide better solutions to tackling the issue than state intervention. This means our authors have both supported and disputed carbon taxes, attacked subsidy schemes as poor value for money, and challenged rent-seeking collusion between low carbon corporations and the Government at the expense of the public. We do not take a position on the science of climate change beyond noting the predominant consensus view when relevant to the topic being researched.