Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution devoted to the study of sustainable development and global governance. Officially recognized by the President of the Italian Republic in 1989 and in full operation since 1990, FEEM has grown to become a leading research centre, providing timely and objective analysis on a wide range of environmental, energy and global economic issues. FEEM’s mission is to improve through research the quality of decision-making in public and private spheres. This goal is achieved by creating an international and multidisciplinary network of researchers working on several innovative programmes, by providing and promoting training in specialized areas of research, by disseminating research results through a wide range of outreach activities, and by delivering directly to policy makers via participation in various institutional fora.

Company details

Palazzo delle Stelline , Corso Magenta 63 , Milan 20123 Italy
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Business Type:
Research institute
Industry Type:
University / Academia / Research
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
Year Founded:
1989

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FEEM’s mission is to improve through research the quality of decision-making in public and private spheres. This goal is achieved by creating an international and multidisciplinary network of researchers working on several innovative programmes, by providing and promoting training in specialized areas of research, by disseminating research results through a wide range of outreach activities, and by delivering directly to policy makers via participation in various institutional fora.

FEEM’s operations are inspired by some guiding principles. FEEM sets a bold research agenda addressing big questions and emerging issues in the economic and social context. While strictly linked with the academic community, it embraces intellectual curiosity and supports risk-taking in pursuing research. Its agenda emphasizes real world issues and the policy relevance of the outputs.

FEEM brings together researchers from various fields at different levels of experience, in order to fertilize ideas and foster the accumulation of human capital inside and outside the organization.

FEEM promotes excellence, boldness of ideas and creativeness, but quality, rigor and impact remain the distinctive features of its activity. Research outputs are theoretically sound, fact-based, and generally validated by the scientific community through peer review processes. FEEM aims at translating analyses into practical ideas, and at presenting them in user-friendly formats to inform and shape the public debate.

While remaining thoroughly Italian in location and perspective, FEEM promotes the international dimension of activities by selecting topics of global importance, by creating networks and partnerships in various countries, and by attracting researchers trained and working abroad.

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The formal date of establishment is June 7, 1989, when the President of the Republic officially recognized FEEM’s legal status. However, the project of establishing a research foundation had been discussed within the Eni group since the early 1980s. In 1982, a commission of Eni executives and external experts drafted a first proposal for a foundation entitled to Enrico Mattei.

The starting point of the commission was the realization of 'the high level of complexity of the problems emerging in international energy markets, and more particularly the need to foster awareness on the interaction between the firm and the environment, the economy and energy scenarios, corporate responsibility and social conflict, and cultural responsibility'. In 1986, a second working group further endorsed the project 'if aimed at the establishment of a genuine scientific institution, fitting with the scope, tradition and prestige of Eni and its international profile.' Institutions carefully scrutinized for benchmarking purposes were major US think-tanks such as the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, the Institute for International Economics (now the Peterson Institute), and the then newly established London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research.

The very first board meeting, which took place in 1987, set down some landmark principles which established a reference business model for future activities. FEEM should display a strong international profile in terms of researchers involved, topics addressed, quality of output and networks. Furthermore, FEEM should not operate as a grant-making institution, but conduct independent research using its own human capital and coordinated programmes. 

In its long standing activity, FEEM has remained faithful to these principles for the development of several streams of research that are strongly up-to-date in spite of their age.

The relationship between the economy, energy and the environment has always been the principal focus of FEEM research activities. The numerous projects developed in-house have addressed various aspects of this symbiotic relation, elaborating the intersections between economic and technological factors, in an international and strategic context. Technology is indeed a key variable to understand the long-run dynamics of an economic system, how many resources should be deployed for the protection of natural resources, and the quantity of environmental damage inflicted by production and consumption activities.

The international and strategic dimension of environmental issues has also been thoroughly investigated. As the story of the design and implementation of the Kyoto protocol clearly shows, environmental issues are global and should be addressed within a global approach. However, the global governance of climate change has been quite ineffective up to now, due to the failure of policy coordination. In retrospect, FEEM research foreshadowed the difficulties of inking international climate agreements for strategic reasons, suggesting that issue-linkage, i.e. increasing the items in the negotiations agenda, could lead to more efficient solutions.

Sustainable economic development has also been addressed in earnest since the very beginning. The first project was launched back in 1993, at times when very limited research was carried out on this topic around the world. The initial project raised questions on the definition of sustainable development and the policies promoting it, taking into account unavoidable uncertainties which render scientific endeavor more difficult (and fascinating). During this pioneering stage, FEEM researchers analyzed the interaction between finance and the environment and the innovative (and now widely used) instruments such as emission permits and catastrophe bonds in the context of international and intergenerational risk-sharing.

From these initial intuitions, FEEM developed several new strands of environmental research, ranging from sustainable energy to natural resource management and biodiversity. Research in this field is today carried out by the programme 'Sustainable Development'.

Economic development has always been investigated at FEEM not only from an environmental perspective, but also taking into account other fundamental aspects, such as knowledge and human capital. Knowledge is a key input to economic activity. There cannot be sustainable development without continuous investments in skills, technology and information. Knowledge is also a peculiar commodity with several of the features of public goods: it can be consumed collectively and property rights are difficult to define and enforce. Since 1991, FEEM has addressed the study of knowledge and human capital accumulation from an economic perspective. In 1999 FEEM launched the research programme 'Knowledge, Technology and Human Capital', specifically devoted to these issues. Since then the programme has covered several key topics such as R&D policies, education and human capital, trust and social capital, knowledge creation and diffusion, localized learning and spillovers. In 2001 the programme broadened the scope to launch a systematic investigation of the relationship between multiculturalism and economic growth with special emphasis on the dynamic gains for innovation and creativity stemming from local and global multicultural interactions. This line of policy-relevant research has recently become the backbone of the new research programme entitled 'Global Challenges' tackling fundamental topics such as the emerging global urban system, the new sources of competitiveness in the global economy, and culture and diversity in capitalism.

FEEM has support-to-policy in its DNA. However, useful advice to decision makers is seldom delivered by the research community if incentives and institutional constraints are not properly taken into account. Indeed, this observation partly explains the limited success of some policy recommendations despite almost unanimous consent within the economic profession. Embracing a 'political economy' approach is thus fundamentally important, and FEEM has played an important role both in promoting studies in this field, and in supporting the policy sphere in adherence to its principles. In 1994, FEEM launched a research programme entitled 'The Economy, Firm and Institutions', addressing important issues such as incentives, information and market failures, the role of lobbies and organized interests in collective decision-making, and the mechanics of self-regulation in financial markets, anticipating one of the most critical issues in the current crisis.

Within this strand of research, FEEM has developed a series of cutting-edge projects, which evolved and consolidated FEEM’s scientific reputation in corporate governance, privatization, and regulation. In 1996, FEEM launched with the CEPR the European Corporate Governance Network, a concerted research project bringing together scholars and practitioners to study the complex interactions between firms and their stakeholders. Twelve years after its launch, the ECGN has grown independently to become a leading centre in Europe. Also in 1996, FEEM launched a systematic data collection on global privatization deals, and started to investigate the causes and consequences of privatization for firms, the financial system and the economy as a whole. To date, thanks to a stream of successful publications on the topic, FEEM is widely considered one of the most authoritative sources on privatization, and often sought for advice by international organizations and governments. The Privatization Barometer, a privatization portal launched in 2004, continues to attract a lot of attention from the research community, the media and market participants. The current crisis is challenging the conventional wisdom on the role of the government in firms, with a resurgence of state capitalism in various forms, notably through the rise of sovereign wealth funds. Current research is monitoring this evolution closely and history will tell whether the State will soon re-privatize bailed-out firms, or whether a different model of capitalism, with an enhanced role of the government and regulation, is ahead of us.

The relationship between the firm and its stakeholders has also been the subject of pioneering applied research in the area of social reporting towards business sustainability. FEEM launched this topic in 1994, well before 'corporate social responsibility' became one of the buzzwords in the business sphere. Indeed, information on the social impacts of business activities started to gain consideration at all levels of society, ranging from consumers turning their attention towards the indirect consequences of their purchasing decisions, to government authorities who needed to monitor compliance with regulations, as well as the firms themselves, that had begun to recognize that 'stakeholder engagement' was a good practice. In this early stage, FEEM developed path-breaking methodologies to take into account the environmental and social impact of activities in the balance sheets, and assisted several companies, starting with its founder Eni, in the drafting of innovative reports.

Current research conducted within the programme 'Institutions and Markets' follows in this wake, seeking to understand the complex interactions among firms and their stakeholders, and how State intervention shapes this symbiotic relationship in a changing world.

Successful research is primarily a cooperative venture, and FEEM has always strived to create strong links with the international scientific community and partnerships with leading institutions. The reader can find a comprehensive list of our main partners in our chronology. It is certainly noteworthy to mention the collaboration with the European Economic Association in the organization of some landmark events, and more recently in the launch of the FEEM Award, the prize for young economists. A new prestigious institution has been added to our distinguished list: Fondazione Giorgio Cini, with which FEEM has established the International Center for Climate Governance. Located in the beautiful Island of Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, the new center will aim to create links between the scientific community and the policy sphere to improve decision making on climate change. These activities will be carried out also in cooperation with the newly established Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) offices in Venice.

In June 2009 FEEM people gathered in Milan for its 20th anniversary. A special occasion to celebrate 20 years of leading research on the environment, energy and the economy.