ideas defining a free society
free markets
individual liberty
representative government

2008 Report: Institutional and Individual Research

As a public policy research center devoted to the study of politics, economics, domestic and foreign political economy, and international affairs, the Hoover Institution contributes to the world marketplace of ideas defining a free society.

Click the links below to see a slideshow of different Hoover visitors and events.
2005–2006 Photographic Timeline
2006–2007 Photographic Timeline
2007 Photographic Timeline
José María Aznar
José María Aznar, president
and prime minister of Spain
from 1996 to 2004.

Ideas have consequences, and a free flow of competing ideas is important for society to consider in its assessment of the policy options that could improve the human condition. To this end, the Hoover Institution endeavors to prominently contribute ideas directed at positive policy formation, converting conceptual insights into practical policy initiatives.

The strength of Hoover’s research program lies in recruiting scholars of exceptional ability, typically within the traditional disciplines of economics, history, law, and political science. Over the years, the Hoover Institution has flourished as a prominent generator of ideas. Scholars are often appointed because they are esteemed generalists, capable of speaking to and writing about broad policy applications; others have specialties and expertise in more-narrow areas of policy inquiry.

Clint Bolick and Shelby Steele
April 2006, Hoover fellows Clint Bolick and Shelby
Steele are awarded the annual Bradley Prize.

An added feature of Hoover’s success is convening scholars from within Stanford and elsewhere to participate with Hoover fellows in the ongoing research enterprise. During the past ten years, Hoover has augmented its research programs by adding numerous joint appointments with Stanford schools and departments, as well as with other exceptional academic institutions.

Scholarly output is at an all-time high, in terms of both quality and quantity. Hoover scholars produce an impressive body of books, articles, and essays that explore the policy landscape, offering ideas to benefit society. During the years, Hoover fellows have focused their research and writing on a breadth of topics, including

George Shultz, Sidney Drell, and Martin Anderson
On the twentieth anniversary of the Reykjavik summit between President Reagan and Soviet general secretary Gorbachev, some of those present at that historic meeting convene to discuss its impact and the prospects for nuclear nonproliferation. Shown here are (from left) George Shultz, Sidney Drell, and Martin Anderson.
  • National Priorities, International Rivalries, and Global Cooperation—domestic and foreign considerations of national and international security; trade and commerce; the rule of law among nations; and the role of international organizations, security unions, and multilateral trade agreements
  • Diminishing Collectivism and Evolving Democratic Capitalism—studies and analyzes the end and aftermath of communism, as well as how collectivist societies make the transition to free and representative government and private enterprise, integrating the archival and research functions of the Institution
  • American Educational Institutions and Academic Performance—education policy as it relates to government provision and oversight versus private solutions (both within and outside the public school system) that stress choice, accountability, and transparency; that include systematic reform options such as vouchers, charter schools, and testing; and that weigh equity concerns against outcome objectives
  • Individual Freedom and the Rule of Law—the coexistence of well-defined intellectual and physical property rights, individual liberty, economic development, environmental issues, and the regulation of commerce and industry within the framework of the Constitution and, hence, of a free society
  • The Growth of Government and Accountability to Society—the government’s performance on behalf of citizens as it provides public services and regulates private enterprise and the scope of government activity in areas such as health care, social services, and the environment
  • American Individualism and Societal Values—societal behavior based on individuals rather than groups, thus confronting issues of, for example, race, gender, and ethnicity; the role of culture and values in society; and the interaction of wealth distribution policies, such as social welfare and social security, with demographic and cultural trends and individual responsibility
Kevin Murphy
Hoover fellow Kevin Murphy receives a
coveted MacArthur Fellowship

Disseminating ideas beyond published books and articles is extremely important. Hoover’s op-ed program is particularly noteworthy, as each year more than one thousand popular articles and commentaries (op-eds) authored by Hoover fellows appear in newspapers, news magazines, and journals (the number of such appearances has more than doubled in the past five years). Specific topics have included

  • Modern-day conflict in relation to twentieth-century experiences
  • The necessity of reforming U.S. intelligence
  • Terrorism and the laws of war
  • The fatwas of radical Islam and the duty to jihad
  • Varieties of progressivism and conservatism in America
  • The interface between private markets and government regulation
  • The importance of property rights to American liberty and free enterprise
  • The interrelationship of economic prosperity and environmental quality
  • Tax simplification and burden
  • Specific assessments of education policy
  • Reform of the U.S. health-care system
Nobel laureates
Hoover fellows and Nobel laureates from left to
right: Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Michael

Hoover fellows have also received numerous prestigious awards and honors. Our select group includes four Nobel Prize laureates, one National Medal of Science recipient, four Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees, one Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, four National Humanities Medal winners (including the one awarded in November 2006 to the Hoover Institution), thirty-one fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, five members of the American Philosophical Society, six members of the National Academy of Education, and thirteen fellows of the Econometric Society.

Robert Conquest
November 2005, Robert Conquest (shown here
with President and Mrs. Bush) receives the
Presidential Medal of Freedom.

looking to the future

As an enterprise steeped in academic tradition, the Hoover Institution, as an academic organization, seeks to effectively provide input to society by gathering pertinent information, analyzing prevailing policy circumstances, and advising on matters of public policy. By recruiting extraordinary intellectual talent, the Hoover Institution has developed the ability to convene scholars willing to combine their efforts in the form of task forces—or “virtual faculties”—with specific research and dissemination objectives. These task force strategies represent new ways to organize the Institution’s research, with a view toward synthesizing current thinking, offering new perspectives, and conveying results to a broad constituency.

Language Police
September 2005, Diane Ravitch
wins the Institution’s
Uncommon Book Award

Through the task forces, Hoover combines its existing intellectual assets with recruited specialists, thus forming scholarly teams that work on commonly defined topics and projects. This methodology contrasts with that of individual fellows working independently on complementary research agendas. Task force teams are led by a scholarly chair and facilitated by the Institution, which allocates its human and financial resources to the task force effort. The new task forces will allow Hoover to concentrate on prevailing policy issues and empower the team of scholars to participate strategically with the director to define the ideas to flow from the task force.

Koret Task Force on K–12 Education
Koret Task Force on K–12
Education delivers its report
on proposed reforms to the
Florida public school system

The Institution’s experience in the area of task force development is noteworthy. As a pilot effort, the Institution launched the Task Force on K–12 Education in 1999, initially as a five-year effort. The ongoing goal of that task force was to identify and convey information about the state of American education, as well as generate ideas that would enhance children’s educational opportunities. Because of its success, this task force was reauthorized for five additional years.

Florida governor Jeb Bush
Florida governor Jeb Bush (center)
meets with Hoover’s Koret Task Force
on K–12 Education

The achievements of the education task force are noteworthy, including scholarly writings, position papers, opinion essays, and advice (testimony and written policy platforms) to national and state governments. Its collaborative efforts also spawned a successful journal on education reform titled Education Next™. This quarterly journal, now in its seventh year of publication, fills a gap in education-related publications by offering high-quality content from top scholars in the fields of education, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, and medicine. The work of the Task Force on K–12 Education exemplifies the type of scholarly output to be conducted within the new task forces.

Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson listens intently to Hoover
fellow Charles Hill (foreground).

Extending this model of task force activity to other important policy issues within the Institution’s research priorities will serve us well by producing multiples of output in relative terms and leveraging existing scholarly and administrative assets already in place.

In addition to the Task Force on K–12 Education, new task forces under consideration include

  • Ideology and Terror—to seek an in-depth understanding of the cultural, social, religious and political differences between non-Western and Western ideologies and societies as they affect fundamentalism and terrorism and to gain a better understanding of those complex and difficult issues so as to identify policy strategies—economic and political as well as diplomatic and military—that may serve to reduce the risks to American security and our principles.
  • National Security and Law—to provide practical proposals for striking an optimal balance between individual freedom and the vigorous defense of the nation against terrorists both abroad and at home by relating the classical rule of law and the specific laws of war to an understanding of the rule of law and its role in Western civilization. Also addressed will be the role of international law and organizations, the laws of war, and the U.S. criminal law through a systematic study of the constellation of issues— social, economic, and political—on which striking a balance depends.
  • Brigadier General Mark T. Kimmitt and Hoover Director John Raisian
    Brigadier General Mark T. Kimmitt, deputy director,
    plans and strategy, U.S. Central Command, is met by Director
    John Raisian before meeting with Hoover fellows.
  • Virtues of a Free Society—to address how America’s core values are evolving and whether the moral basis of America’s founding is threatened or sufficiently preserved by identifying the enduring virtues and values on which liberty depends; charting the change in how Americans have practiced virtues and values over the course of our nation’s history; assessing the ability of contemporary associations and institutions—particularly schools, family, and religion—to sustain the necessary virtues; and offering comments on how society might nurture the virtues and values on which liberty depends.
  • Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity—to address the philosophical, historical, legal, and economic foundations of property rights and the role they have played in our history and quality of life and how those rights foster economic development, the stewardship of natural resources, investment in intellectual and physical capital, sound business practices, and, above all, individual liberty.
  • Procedural Reform of Government—to examine the framers’ commitment to individual freedom invoking a set of political and economic institutions that limit government and guarantee rights that have persisted over our history despite significant challenges; to assess doubts raised about the capacity of our institutions to meet contemporary challenges as well as serious questions about the long-term viability of the American system of government; and to affirm as appropriate the resiliency of the American system, studying current challenges, the contemporary evolution of American governance, and reforms to sustain the American way of life.
  • Tax and Budget Policy—to begin a dialogue on the appropriate size of government and how government shall be financed by assessing the current tax policies of American governance and their efficiency and effect on American productivity and growth; to consider issues related to the breadth of the tax base and whether tax policy should be a centerpiece for redistribution of income and the extent of deficit financing and its limitations for the prudent operation of American society.
  • Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise
    Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Five
    Steps to a Better Health Care
  • Health-Care Reform—to focus on two related policy areas: reforming the health-care industry and reforming Medicare entitlement, the government’s system of health-care support for the elderly, by confronting the looming crisis of a failed industry fraught with government intervention and a bankrupt government program saddled with the responsibility for providing health care to the elderly and indigent and assessing the difficult politics of health-care reform and the major challenges to adopting sound reforms.
  • Energy Policy—to address concerns related to energy policy in the United States, given that strong economic growth worldwide will contribute to increased use of energy, straining the capacity to supply desired amounts at a reasonable price. As a result of volatile and rising prices, two related compelling issues—a plausible threat to national security and a plausible adverse impact on global climate change—will also be addressed. To gather comprehensive information on current scientific and technological developments, survey the contingent policy actions (e.g., massive subsidies for cornbased ethanol), and offer a range of prescriptive policies.
  • Economic Development—to investigate the role of the rule of law, property rights, and economic growth around the world, including international competitiveness and productivity; to review the disparity of economic growth across countries and the associated international policy issues; and to assess the performance of the American economy in competing with other leading economies evolving in the world such as China and India.