About the institute

read more
show less


  • Network Prize of the Friedrich August von Hayek Society (2021)
  • Templeton Freedom Award of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (2005)
  • Freedom Prize of the Max Schmidheiny Foundation (1991)


  • Network Prize of the Friedrich August von Hayek Society (2021)
  • Templeton Freedom Award of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (2005)
  • Freedom Prize of the Max Schmidheiny Foundation (1991)


The Liberales Institut is supported by a team of committed liberal personalities.

Institute Management

Olivier Kessler


Nicolas Jutzet

Vice director

Claudia Schuhmacher

Associated researchers

Kristian Niemietz

Michael von Prollius

Rahim Taghizadegan

Associated employees

Fabio Andreotti

Jean-Baptiste Bernus

Barbara Kobel

Emanuele Martinelli

Board of Trustees

Daniel Eisele

Attorney at Law,
Zurich (President)

Sandro Piffaretti

Cham (Vice President)

Victoria Curzon Price

Professor of Political Economy, Geneva

Michael Esfeld

Professor of Philosophy of Science, Lausanne

Beat Gygi


Daniel Model


Robert Nef

St. Gallen

Henrique Schneider

Academic Advisory Board

Philipp Bagus

Professor of Economics, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid

David Dürr

Professor of Law, University of Zurich

Richard Ebeling

Professor of Economics,
The Citadel, Charleston

Florian Follert

Professor of Business Administration, Private University Schloss Seeburg, Seekirchen am Wallersee

Christian Hoffmann

for Economics,
University of Leipzig

Jesús Huerta de Soto

Professor of Political Economy, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid

Guido Hülsmann

of Economics,
Université d'Angers.

Karl-Friedrich Israel

Assistant Professor of Economics, Université Catholique de l'Ouest, Angers

Stefan Kooths

Director of the Research Center Business Cycle and Growth at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Kiel, Germany

Carlo Lottieri

Professor of Economics, Università degli Studi di Verona

Thorsten Polleit

Professor of Economics, University of Bayreuth

Pascal Salin

Professor of Economics, Université Paris-Dauphine

Gunther Schnabl

Professor of Economics, University of Leipzig

Roland Vaubel

Professor of Economics, University of Mannheim

Michael Wohlgemuth

Professor of Economics, University of Witten/Herdecke

Marty Revision AG,
Luzern, Schweiz


Liberalism is rooted in skepticism toward power and coercion and therefore toward the state. This is also where it derives its vigor and urgency.

Freedom rights, as fundament of the liberal order, cannot be relativized without endangering human dignity. That is why they deserve our special care — and our commitment. The fundaments of a liberal order can be described by means of the following three principles:

Understanding the mature person as origin and goal

Every liberal order stands and falls with respect for the autonomy of the person. Where coercion prevails, voluntariness and autonomy should spread. But if self-responsibility is to take the place of heteronomy and regulation, then an “orderly retreat” from incapacitating – often well-intentioned – statist structures must be undertaken. The starting point of any liberal order is thus the responsible individual who is trusted to determine his or her own life.

Develop solutions as privately and as close to the people as possible

A person’s freedom and autonomy is not demonstrated in isolation, but in cooperation. Self-determination therefore manifests itself in voluntary, contractual networks of cooperation. Where centralized units have ruled until now, diverse, decentralized units should cultivate competition. Centralization is a danger to freedom and autonomy. A liberal order also requires the strength and tolerance to tolerate mutual maturity and private autonomy, to tolerate diversity. In addition to the diversity of contractual cooperation, the diversity of non-central open political units is also indispensable.

Enable voluntary cooperation

Freedom is the prerequisite for effective cooperation and solidarity. Where today the incapacitating, centralistic constraints of the “welfare state” shackle, the spontaneous and targeted helpfulness of civil society should take effect. Unhindered exchange between those who help and those who need help is a foundation of a living civil society. Those who replace solidarity with coercion therefore destroy the foundations of harmonious cooperation between autonomous people.


The Liberal Institute stands in the Swiss tradition of freedom, whose roots go back to the 13th century. At that time the Confederates defended their independence toward the tax tyranny of a foreign lord, and replaced it with a voluntary community with minimal common rules. This story — dramatized in 1804 by the great poet Friedrich von Schiller — reflects both components of the idea of freedom: the revolt against coercion and the willingness to contractual arrangements.

A universal idea

Freedom of course was not invented in Switzerland — it is part of the cultural heritage of humanity. The liberal skepticism toward power lies at the source of every pluralistic society, every innovative and prosperous economy, indeed civilization itself. It finds its expression in the ancient Jewish and Greek idea that rulers are also bound by moral norms and cannot be sovereign over unlimited coercive power. The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tse described in the 6th century B.C. how a society could develop harmoniously without state coercion.

Germaine de Staël and Benjamin Constant

In Switzerland the idea of freedom found new impetus in the 18th century with Germaine de Staël, Germaine de Staël the daughter of the Geneva banker Jacques Necker. She led an influential European salon at the Castle of Coppet and interacted with famous contemporaries in the German-speaking realm such as Friedrich von Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (who translated one of her essays). Benjamin ConstantBenjamin Constant She pleaded with passion for social pluralism and against the fatal centralization of the state. Her companion Benjamin Constant — probably one of the most productive philosophers of his time — advanced similar ideas. Constant demystified the state as a mere human association whose only objective was to serve the protection of individual liberty.

Ludwig von Mises, Wilhelm Röpke

In the last century Switzerland played a key role as beacon of freedom in a Europe sinking in collectivism and statist excesses. Ludwig von Mises Ludwig von Mises In 1934 Geneva’s Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales, led by William Rappard, offered a refuge to the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises.Wilhelm Röpke Here he wrote his essential magnum opus Human ActionWilhelm Röpke, which was published in 1940. The German economist Wilhelm Röpke came to the same institute in 1937. In Geneva he wrote his ground-breaking social philosophy and advanced the idea of freedom in the public debate through the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

F. A. von Hayek and the Mont Pèlerin Society
Friedrich HayekWhen it was time to lay the foundations for the renaissance of civilization on Europe’s ruins, the economist (and later Nobel laureate) Friedrich August von Hayek gathered in 1947 in Mont-Pèlerin above Vevey 39 leading liberal scholars — among whom L. von Mises, W. Rappard and W. Röpke. The then founded Mont Pèlerin Society today includes over 700 liberal thinkers and practioners worldwide Friedrich Hayekas members. F. A. von Hayek also published in Zurich the first German-language edition of its influential volume The Road to Serfdom. From 1947 until 1959 he published some of his most important essays in the Schweizer Monatshefte. The Liberal Institute has advanced the comprehensive intellectual and humane tradition of the idea of freedom since 1979 and has given itself the mission to carry it further in the 21th century.

Röpke Prize for Civil Society

The Röpke Prize for Civil Society is intended to recognize an achievement and an attitude that are related to the concerns of the great economist, and thus to those of the Liberales Institut. It is also intended as a sign of gratitude and joy that the liberal culture in Switzerland remains diverse and alive. The Röpke Prize is awarded annually as part of the Liberales Institut’s celebration of freedom.

Please refer to the German page for the winners to date.

About the origin of the Röpke Prize

The economist and social philosopher Wilhelm Röpke (1899-1966) is one of the most important representatives of liberalism in recent Swiss history. Both as part of his teaching activities at the Geneva Institute Universitaire des Hautes Etudes Internationales and in the context of his numerous book publications and opinion pieces in the Swiss press, he defended individual freedom, the market economy and a decentralized order with commitment and eloquence. This was at a time when numerous contemporaries sympathized with the promises of totalitarian ideologies or advocated a “pragmatic adaptation” to them.

Wilhelm Röpke therefore still stands for courage, a consistent love of freedom and creative dissidence. According to Röpke, maintaining a liberal order and a vibrant civil society requires that individual citizens respect and apply liberal values ​​and norms in their everyday lives. With the Röpke Prize for Civil Society, the Liberal Institute therefore honors personalities from business, science and culture who strengthen the presence of liberal ideals in society through their activities.


The Liberal Institute is delighted to hear from you.


Hochstrasse 38
8044 Zürich, Schweiz
Tel.: +41 (0)44 364 16 66


Boulevard de Grancy 19
1006 Lausanne, Suisse
Tel.: +41 (0)21 510 32 00


Via Nassa 60
6900 Lugano, Svizzera
Tel.: +41 (0)91 210 27 90

Contact form

Always stay up to date

subscribe to newsletter

Receive information in German about current publications and events about once a month.

WordPress Cookie Plugin by Real Cookie Banner