The Global Development Network (GDN) is an International Organization of research and policy institutes promoting the generation, sharing and application to policy of multidisciplinary knowledge for the purpose of development. It was founded on the premise that good policy research, properly applied, can accelerate development and improve people’s lives. GDN’s approach to policy relevant research is a multidisciplinary one, in that efforts to address development challenges must be informed by knowledge based on a variety of methodological approaches.

Based on an initiative by The World Bank, the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies started the Global Development Network Southeast Europe  (GDN-SEE) project in January 2000 with financial support from The World Bank and the Austrian Ministry of Finance. Since 2002, the project is also supported by the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
The purpose of the project is the creation of research networks throughout Southeast Europe in order 
- to enhance the economic research capacity in South East Europe (SEE) 
- to build new research capacities by mobilizing young researchers 
- to promote knowledge transfer into the region 
- to facilitate networking between researchers within the region (beyond country borders) 
- to assist in securing knowledge transfer from researchers to policy makers.

In the first phase of the project (2000 - 2001) two research networks have been established, one dealing with the topic " Prospects and policies for long-term development in Southeast Europe" and the other one " Regionalism in Southeast Europe: Opportunities and Policies". The second phase of the project started in 2002. It lasted until 2004 and consisted of four research areas: The path towards accession to the EU; Enterprise development and labour markets; Unilateral, bilateral and multilateral economic policy coordination; Understanding reform. In the third phase of the project in the period 2004 - 2006 the project had the following three research areas: Labour markets, migration ; FDI, trade, exchange rates; Foreign aid. The three research areas of the fourth phase of the project in the period 2007-2008 were: Inequality; Migration; Fiscal systems. The fifth phase of the project in the period 2009-2010 has specifically dealt with the issues of income distributions in transition countries with special interest in the role of fiscal redistribution. The sixth phase of the project in the period 2011-2013 has focused on the crisis effects and the related growth prospect, social impact and policy responses in SEE and CIS. In the seventh phase of the period 2014-2015 wiiw economists and research teams from the SEE region have been analysing the reasons for the lagging behind of Southeast Europe under the broad theoretical approach that can be characterised as that of the Austrian theory of development. This approach relies on the seminal work in development economics by Alexander Gerschenkron (the role of the state, firms and banks in pulling countries out of backwardness), Paul Rosenstein-Rodan (increasing returns and large scale infrastructure investment) and Albert Hirschman (induced industrialisation and its forward and backward linkages), accounting for a region’s development – or its failure.