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RSN PCC's 5-Year Accomplishment Report (2011-2015)

Posted: 2016-01-14



Research Framework
Research Programs


Established in 1996 amidst a policy environment of sweeping reforms in the Philippines, the Asian Institute of Management’s Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness (formerly known as the AIM Policy Center) is a think tank meant to serve as the public policy research arm of the Institute. The Center was tasked with conducting research, organizing public fora and providing technical assistance in response to emerging international economic trends and the demands of an increasingly integrated and competitive global trade and investment environment. It has since carried out its mandate to produce cutting-edge policy research, as well as provide technical assistance to public and private sector partners engaged in policy reforms. The Center regularly partners with public, private and civil society stakeholders to host evidence-based policy discussions in support of the long-term growth and development of the Asian region and the Philippines.


In 2011, in response to consultations with its key stakeholders and partners, the AIM Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness (AIM RSN PCC) expanded its research to tackle the roots of inequality and how these hinder sustained reforms toward inclusive growth. In many developing countries across the world, inequality in its various forms—economic, social and political—constitutes a major barrier to development. The initiatives of the Center are now motivated by the thesis that inclusive growth can only take place in a sustained manner if these fundamental inequalities are sufficiently addressed. The Center’s work is focused on three important pillars – promoting an inclusive market economy, an inclusive safety net for society, as well as an inclusive and citizen-empowered democracy. Ultimately, enhanced equity in these areas could be mutually supportive, producing a self-sustaining dynamic whereby an inclusive economy empowers households to break free from poverty, an inclusive social protection system ensures citizens and communities are resilient to shocks, , and finally, empowered voters hold their leaders accountable to these continued reforms.

Figure 1. The Policy Center's Integrated Research Agenda




Sustaining Economic Competitiveness and Promoting Competition

Policies which promote fair competition and a more level playing field in the market, and those which facilitate the creation of more decent jobs are crucial to bringing about a truly inclusive economy. The Center is one of the few think tanks in the country leading in the development and monitoring of competitiveness indicators for the Asian region, complementing this with analyses on how best to sustain reforms in competitiveness and competition promotion. In collaboration with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and other partners, the Center has explored concrete channels through which economic competitiveness could be further advanced, including in specific sectors such as the maritime economy, extractive industries, energy, agriculture, and manufacturing.

The Center’s research program in this area engages key industries in mapping competitiveness enhancement strategies, in order to unblock bottlenecks that hinder further productivity growth and private sector dynamism. At the same time, the program delves into policies that protect and empower the most marginalized members of the society. This is anchored on strong international evidence and policy experience that economic growth and job creation will be unsustainable if the country is hobbled by weak human capital.

Enhancing Economic Governance

In democratic systems, balancing the role of the state and markets in promoting social and economic goals is an ongoing challenge. It is critical to assess how this balance is struck and the extent to which democratic institutions are indeed able to foster the types of reforms necessary for more vibrant and inclusive market economies. The Center’s work in this area seeks to promote evidence on how the political landscape is linked to socio-economic outcomes, with particular focus on the first two pillars of inclusiveness already mentioned earlier.


Figure 2. Snapshot of the Policy Center’s 5-Year Track Record


After a series of consultations with the AIM senior management, the Center’s Board of Advisers, and key stakeholders, the Policy Center identified three key results areas:

KEY RESULT AREA 1: Collaborative Research Initiatives and Peer Reviewed Research Output. The Center aims to produce research that will complement the Institute's  teaching programs and courses, and foster collaboration with AIM faculty on research projects under the over-all theme of "Promoting Inclusive Growth in the Philippines and ASEAN.“

From 2011 to 2015, the Center was able to produce fifty-one (51) working papers, fifty (50) ope-eds, and twenty-five (25) publications (3 books, 4 cases, and 18 peer-reviewed journal articles). Most of these papers have been generated in collaboration with AIM professors, including Prof. Toby Canto, Prof. Edilberto de Jesus, Prof. Manuel de Vera, Prof. Paolo Francisco, Prof. Ricardo Lim,, Prof. Mario Antonio Lopez, Prof. Juan Miguel Luz, Prof. Harold J. MacArthur and Prof. Fernando Roxas.

During the period spanning 2011 to 2015, the Center’s annual research output accounted for almost one third of the entire output of AIM.

Table 1. Summary of the Policy Center’s Peer Reviewed Journals Output
(Benchmarked on AIM’s Total)

  AY 2011-2012  AY 2012-2013 AY 2013-2014 AY 2014-2015 TOTAL
AIM's Annual Peer Reviewed Journals Output (Per School Year) 7 20 20 36 83
Of which, the Policy Center's PRJ Output 4 5 5 8 22
Policy Center's Percent Share of Total Annual PRJ Output 57% 25% 25% 22% 27%

Note: Data culled from the official records of the Office of Research and Publications.

The Center's strong research output would not have been possible without the support of AIM's faculty, as well as partnerships with researchers in the Philippines and abroad. The Center established a network of non-resident research fellows from different institutions in the Philippines and other countries. This network of local and international researchers helped foster a collaborative and compative research environment for the Center's staff. Below are some of the Non-Resident research Fellows of AIM RSN PCC.

Table 2. The Policy Center's Research Partners

Non-Resident Research Fellows Areas of Specialization Ongoing Research
Nadia Doytch, PhD
City University of New York
Foreign direct investments, environmental economics, sustainability FDI and public investments, mining policy, SMEs, sustainable development
Philamer Torio, ABD
University of Toronto
Privatization, PPPs Water sector reforms and regulation
Kevin Chua, PhD
Shandong University
ASEAN Economic Community, international production chains, international trade agreements Regional economic integration, international value chains, ASEAN and China economic linkages
Jude Ocampo, LLM (Harvard)
(Pnom Penh)
Comparative international taxation policies, fiscal incentives Public finance and policy, taxation
Rosechin Olfindo, MPA-ID (Harvard) Poverty reduction, global value chain, sustainable development, governance Poverty reduction, industry roadmaps, governance
Other Research Partners Areas of Specialization Ongoing Research
Edsel Beja Jr., PhD
Ateneo De Manila University
Macroeconomics, political economy, and welfare and well-being economics Political dynasties, happiness economics
Julio Teehankee, PhD
De La Salle University
Politics and development in East and Southeast Asia, governance, democratization, and contested institutions Party politics, political dynasties, presidentialism in Asia, comparative constitutional dynamics in East and Southeast Asia, and the post crises development architecture.
Antonio La Viña, JSD
Ateneo School of Government
Climate change, consensus-building and negotiations, social accountabilty, local government, legal philosophy, and public ethics Climate change, social accountability
Ma. Fe Mendoza, PhD
UP National College of Public Administration and Governance
Public policy, public enterprise management, development models, administrative governance theories and governance Public sector reform, competition and regularization of electricity markets, public-private partnerships, and corporate governance
Cesi Cruz, PhD
University of British Columbia
Political economy in Southeast Asia Social network analysis, political dynasties, electoral incentives
Julien Labonne, PhD
Economics, political science, and public policy Voting and political behavior in developing countries
Anders Johansson, PhD
Stockholm School of Economics
Economics, Asian studies Government-business relations in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the People's Republic of China
Victor Venida, PhD
Ateneo de Manila University
Development economics, history of economics Development economics, urban and regional analysis, cultural and architectural heritage
Lila Shahani, ABD
Oxford University
Human development and poverty reduction Poverty reduction, human trafficking
Clarissa David, PhD
University of the Philippines
Communication, education, health, governance Frame analysis, social media and disasters, political communication, public opinion, and effect of news on knowledge and engagement

KEY RESULT AREA 2: Technical Assistance. The Center seeks to organize and/or participate in local and international policy forums that engage public and private stakeholders and experts in issues linked to economic competitiveness and competition, involving not just the lens of the Philippines, but also the ASEAN and Asian region.

For the past five (5) years, AIM RSN PCC managed to expand and diversify its technical assistance portfolio. Long-standing partnerships were strengthened (e.g. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and National Competitiveness Council) while new partnerships were developed, thanks to International Development Research Center (IDRC), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF Manila and UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Offices), Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Regional Office in Tokyo, United Nationd Development Programme (UNDP Philippines), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). In addition, the Center (through its Executive Director and staff) has provided briefings on key economic and political data and evidence to leading media agencies, as well as high ranking government officials.

Through these partnerships, the Center was able to convene academic experts, industry leaders, policymakers, and civil society members to discuss various issues on competitiveness and inclusive democracy. A total of sixty-nine (69) local and international conferences, forums, and workshops were hosted during the period spanning from 2011 to 2015.

As regards the impact, the Center was able to track well over 250 print, online and television media articles and telecasts featuring and disseminating the Center's work. In turn, this has generated a stronger demand for collaboration with the Center, and it has provided a firm basis for the Center’s partnerships and resource mobilization strategies. At any one point in time, the Center typically is exploring around 5 to 10 funding sources and partners for its various research activities.


KEY RESULT AREA 3: Partnerships and Resource Mobilization. As noted previously, the Center also seeks to mobilize resources and partnerships to undertake policy research and initiatives on promoting inclusive growth of ASEAN societies.

As the AIM Center of Excellence with the leanest endowment, AIM RSN PCC has taken proactive steps to expand and diversify its original research portfolio (inherited in 2010) in part by securing grants and strategically partnering with organizations and institutions with parallel research interests. During the period from 2011 to 2015, the Center mobilized an additional PhP56.3 million in research grants. Most of the grants included an allocation for grant administrative expenses, amounting to a total of PhP3.8M from 2011 to 2015. The latter is equivalent to a direct infusion of resources into the Center’s endowment, thanks to the efforts of the Center’s staff in the past 5 years. The following is a direct excerpt from a memo prepared by the AIM Scientific Research Foundation:

“In partnership with AIM-SRF staff, the Center implemented measures that would later help reduce the Center’s deficit which was accumulated prior to the appointment of Dr. Ronald U. Mendoza in January 2011. In terms of compensation, the professional fees of the staff were mostly covered by the grants the Center competitively secured, including the honorarium of the Center’s Executive Director for at least twenty four (24) months (i.e. funded by grants by both IDRC and UNDP). As a result, the Center’s administrative expenses were substantially reduced. For the past five fiscal years prior to the appointment of Dr. Mendoza (FY 2005-2006 up to FY 2009-2010), the Center’s Average Administrative Expenses amounted to PhP 2.7M.  Under the term of Dr Mendoza, this figure has been reduced to an average of PhP 1.4M or equivalent to 55% decrease.”

In the last quarter of 2014, a series of consultation meetings were held with the Center’s main donors and Board of Advisers (BOA). The meetings focused on the fund-raising drive initiated by the Office of Institutional Advancement of AIM. This initiative intended to raise PhP50 million to increase the Center’s endowment fund. As part of the fund-raising initiative, it was decided to rename the Center from AIM Policy Center to AIM Rizalino S. Navarro Center for Competitiveness. The Office of the Institutional Advancement concluded the first phase of the fund-raising drive in August 2015, having receiving around PhP10.7 million.

While this is short of the original target, the Center has nevertheless deployed these resources to produce frontloaded research output in areas related to strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), reducing red-tape and onerous regulations on private enterprises in the Philippines, reforming the income tax system and the Bureau of Customs, and promoting stronger economic governance through a more inclusive and accountable democratic system. One key example of the work supported by the Center’s donors is the edited volume, Building Inclusive Democracies in ASEAN, published by Anvil Press. The volume’s editors include Edsel Beja, Jr (Associate Professor of Economics, Ateneo de Manila University), Marie Fe Vilamejor-Mendoza (Dean, University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration), Antonio La Vina (Dean, Ateneo de Manila School of Government), Julio Teehankee (Dean, College of Arts and Sciences of La Salle University) and Ronald Mendoza (ED of the AIM Policy Center). Further information on the volume is available at


By January 15, 2016, Dr. Ronald U. Mendoza will step down as the Executive Director of the Center. He will be replaced by Dr. Paolo Francisco, an economist and longstanding research partner of the Center. With its solid track record in policy research and stronger financial footing, the Center will no doubt reach even greater heights.



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