The Berggruen Institute is dedicated to the design and implementation of new ideas of good governance -- drawing from practices in both East and West -- that can be brought to bear on the common challenges of globalization in the 21st century.

We are an independent, non-partisan “think and action tank” that engages cutting edge entrepreneurs, global thinkers and political leaders from around the world as key participants in our projects.

The great transition of our time is from American-led globalization 1.0 to the interdependence of plural identities that characterizes globalization 2.0 as the dominance of the West recedes with the rise of the rest. A political and cultural awakening, amplified by social media, is part and parcel of this shift, and good governance must respond by devolving power and involving citizens more meaningfully in governing their communities. At the same time, we believe that accountable institutions must be created that can competently manage the global links of interdependence.

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A forum for dialogue on global governance, with a focus on the G-20 as the governing body of globalization. Members include former heads of state, global entrepreneurs and political thinkers.

Council for the Future of Europe

This Council gathers a small group of the region's most eminent political figures to research and debate ways forward for a united Europe.

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Develops comprehensive approaches to repairing California's broken system of governance while evaluating policies and institutions vital for the state's long-term future.

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24 October 2014

Eric Schmidt

In September, The WorldPost hosted the New York book party for How Google Works for an evening of celebration and conversation. Authors Eric Schmidt (a member of our 21st Century Council) and Jonathan Rosenberg, respectively Chairman and former Senior Vice President at Google, spent time meeting guests and discussing not only their new book, but the changing media and technological environments. Commenting on the WorldPost, Eric Schmidt said: "The Internet changes everything, and has had a huge impact on the media. What WorldPost is trying to do is to get new voices and new sources so that you can figure out what's really going on in the world. It's a good example of real innovation, which is what our new book is about." 

Nicolas Berggruen & Eric Schmidt

Unveiling how Google had to rethink traditional concepts of business and management, the book emphasizes the value of human capital in creating the Internet zeitgeist. And the spirit of Google revealed in How Google Works extended far beyond libations and geography. On the global sociopolitical transformation occurring in the Internet Era, Rosenberg spoke positively towards developing information markets and media: “Imagine things from the perspective of someone in the third world who previously didn’t have access to a library—who didn’t previously have access to a newspaper. I think these people hunger for information. And I think we are going to find that they are going to fundamentally change the discourse online as soon as they come online with cellphones.” Beyond the boon to business, the age of the Internet will help fill a global hunger for specialized information and expertise across cultural perspectives. More text-heavy and less visually centered, Rosenberg offered a vision of an emerging universal marketplace for information.

It should hardly be surprising that the word “google” has become part of the international lexicon, reshaping how the world connects.


9 October 2014
Faculty and European Leaders Deepen the Debate at the 2014 Summit On The Future of Europe at Harvard

Carl Bildt addresses the 2014 Summit on the Future of Europe

On September 22, 2014 the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES) welcomed a distinguished group of participants at the 2014 Summit on the Future of Europe ­– a cooperation between CES, the Berggruen Institute on Governance and The WorldPost. The day’s speakers included Carl Bildt, Vuk Jeremić, and Mario Monti as well as Mark BlythRichard CooperNiall Ferguson and Joseph Nye.  Below is a summary and select highlights of the proceedings. 

Over the course of an off-the-record round table in the morning, a lively debate over lunch, and a public lecture in the afternoon, most participants agreed on three key points:

  • How Europe decides to confront Putin over the Ukraine crisis will shape the continent for years to come.
  • Confronting Putin head-on would require a substantial monetary and military commitment – and may even involve compromising on some core political principles which many Europeans hold dear.
  • Integrating Ukraine into the Western alliance will require a massive restructuring of its economy, and likely cannot be achieved without significant monetary aid from Western and Central Europe.

While most participants agreed on some of the analysis, they vividly disagreed on the best course of action. In Joseph Nye’s terminology (see article “A Western Strategy for a Declining Russia" in Project Syndicate ), the Summit debates crystallized along two axes: the "squeezers" who favored applying serious economic and military pressure on Putin and the "dealers," who advocated for resolving the conflict through negotiation. 

The squeezers believed that Putin respects strength more than weakness. They argued that he acts opportunistically, trying to increase Russia's reach when he sees a tactical opening, but that his fundamental position is ultimately weak. The West, they were convinced, can manage Putin's ambitions by demonstrating strength and adopting policies that will weaken his position. But if Europe fails to help Ukraine, it will, as Carl Bildt put the point, face "an even more complicated future."

L-R: Mario Monti, Grzegorz Ekiert

To confront Putin, Europe will have to make changes that will be deeply controversial on a continent long committed to environmentalism and marked by an aversion to the use of force. The squeezers suggested tough sanctions on Putin; one speaker at the morning session suggested – a little mischievously – that Europe could raise the stakes by sending its own set of "volunteers" to defend Ukraine. Beyond that, the squeezers agreed, European countries would need to beef up their defense budgets; buy LNG terminals; build a pipeline from Spain to France which would make it easier for North African gas to reach large parts of Europe; and re-activate atomic power plants lying idle in Germany .

The dealers, on the other hand, argued that Putin is feeling genuinely threatened by the Eastward expansion of NATO and the EU. They therefore believed that negotiations with Russia could lead to an agreement that will be respected by both sides, and set the stage for easing tensions between Russia and the West. Though they did not foresee Russia's hostility towards the West disappearing anytime soon, they were more optimistic about the country's long-term future: a liberal, economically successful Russia, they argued, will come about – but its arrival is a matter of generations, not years.

This still leaves open the question, put starkly by Graham Allison over lunch, of who Europe would fight for? Mario Monti and Carl Bildt were adamant that Western Europe would uphold its NATO commitments. But whether the West would risk a major confrontation over non-NATO members, like Ukraine, remained an open question. Bildt's observation that the crisis had already succeeded in making half of Europe – the states that had once been under the control of the Soviet Union – increase their defense budget was as eloquent in what it left out: so far, most Western nations have not upped their commitment to military spending. At the same time, Vuk Jeremić's criticism of the West's supposed disregard for Serbian sovereignty highlighted that the countries west of Ukraine have some lingering disagreements of their own to overcome.

L-R: Niall Ferguson, Carl Bildt, Mario Monti, Vuk Jeremić

Also at lunch, a number of economists sought Monti’s thoughts on Europe’s monetary policy. Monti posited, somewhat humorously, that German economists still regard monetary policy as a branch of moral philosophy: they do not believe in fiscal expansion because sin can only be expiated by atonement. Though Monti defended the need for fiscal discipline, he implicitly criticized such a moralized approach.

Another topic that elicited both agreement about the basic choice set and disagreement about the best course of action was the future of Ukraine itself. All participants agreed that the West could only co-opt the country by promising it a better economic future. But they diverged about how difficult it would be to proffer a real prospective to Ukrainians. Dealers emphasized that Ukraine's economy is in terrible shape, and its government rife with corruption. Squeezers retorted that Ukraine's long-term prospects were excellent thanks to its highly arable land and a long tradition of manufacturing; if Ukraine can access world markets and its politicians carry out the right reforms, they suggested, the country might have a more prosperous future than pessimists predict.

The 2014 Summit on the Future of Europe is a partnership of Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, the Berggruen Institute on Governance and The WorldPost. It was launched to convene scholars and policymakers at Harvard University in order to deepen the debate on critical challenges facing Europe, as well as generate ideas that support effective policy responses.

28 September 2014

Bill marks first major changes in four decades to California's century-old initiative process

Sacramento –  Addressing concerns about the growing influence of special interests on California’s initiative process and the decline of voter participation, Governor Jerry Brown today signed legislation that strengthens Legislative and public oversight of ballot measures and increases transparency within a century-old process that has been stubbornly resistant to change.

“SB1253 strengthens the integrity of the initiative process, which is uniquely influential in California political life,” said Nicolas Berggruen, Think Long Committee for California chairman. “It introduces transparency of funding while also enabling broader debate and public review so that measures can be modified before they go to the ballot, avoiding unintended consequences. “

SB 1253, the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act, was authored by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Under the new law the Legislature holds hearings months before ballots go to print, allowing lawmakers and proponents to make changes, corrections and compromises before ballots go to the voters. Initiative backers also gain the ability to correct mistakes before an initiative appears on the ballot, preventing drafting or legal errors that have led to litigation and confusion.  And the law pushes the Secretary of State to feature the top funders of proposed initiatives in online ballot materials.

“Together these changes let voters and the Legislature see what the ballot might look like months before the election,” said Robert Hertzberg, former Assembly Speaker and Think Long Committee member.  “That lets lawmakers get to work on the policy issues at the heart of the various initiatives, make them public, make compromises, and fix errors, so voters get only clear and effective initiatives on their ballots. These changes are about making better public policy and making initiatives serve their intended purpose.”

“California is not the only state to allow direct voter participation through initiatives.  But too often here, ballot measures are confusing and poorly written, and there has been no chance for initiative backers to make even the most routine changes let alone drive compromise,” said Ronald George, former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and a member of the Think Long Committee. “All of that stands in the way of voter confidence and understanding, and leads to bad policy outcomes.”

The changes in the law reflect what voters want to see.  Nearly eight in 10 California voters want to see the Legislature do more to improve initiatives, want review and revision of measures, and support more clarity and information surrounding initiatives – and their support crosses party lines according to polling by the Public Policy Institute of California.  But according to PPIC, the last significant reforms to the process date back to 1974.

Other changes in the law: initiative backers can withdraw a measure after petitions and signatures are submitted, but before ballots are printed, simplifying the ballot and helping to avoid unintended consequences; voters can request an email version of the voter guide, reducing costs; and extends the time for signature gathering by a month to allow more grassroots participation.

Initiative reform was a central recommendation in the Think Long Committee’s “Blueprint to Renew California,” released in November 2011. This bipartisan plan to restore the state’s dysfunctional democracy was based on a year of discussions and meetings with key stakeholders in the state, including Governor Brown.

On SB 1253, the Think Long Committee worked for a year with a diverse and bipartisan coalition from across the political spectrum. Other supporters of the legislation include the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, the California Chamber of Commerce, California Business Roundtable, California NAACP, California AARP, California School Employees Assn., California Council of Churches IMPACT, and California Forward, among others.

The Ballot Initiative Transparency Act addresses California voters’ greatest concerns about the initiative process. According to a PPIC survey earlier this year, 83% of Californians agree that initiative wording is too complicated and confusing. 84% favor increasing public disclosure of funding sources for both signature gathering and initiative campaigns. And 77% support a review process to help avoid legal problems and drafting errors.

A key strategy in their work to improve policy outcomes, is the Think Long Committee’s work to increase voter and civic participation. Voters greatly value their direct say in the political process via initiatives, Berggruen noted, but they also feel that the integrity of the process has eroded.

“The new law will give voters clear information about who special interests are, what they want, and how much they are spending,” Berggruen said.  “At the same time the Legislature and proponents of ballot measures will have avenues for correction and compromise, paving the way for clearer ballots and better policies.”