CDRI’s core founding principle is that objective high quality policy-relevant research has a central role to play in good policy making for Cambodia’s sustainable development, and in the implementation of effective national development strategies and policy actions.

CDRI’s research is designed, implemented and disseminated within an ethical framework that emphasises consultation and participation, transparency, informed consent, data confidentiality, local ownership and participation, respect for privacy and the well-being of the vulnerable, accessibility of research knowledge and respect for intellectual property, a commitment to the strengthening of local capacity and sensitivity to local culture.

CDRI undertakes its research projects in partnership with Cambodian government agencies and their international development partners, other research and tertiary education institutions, the private sector and civil society.

CDRI’s multidisciplinary research covers six interrelated themes, which are reflected in CDRI’s management structure: Centre for Policy Research in Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), Centre for Development Economics and Trade (CDET), Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), Center for Natural Resource and Environment (CNRE), Centre for Governance and Inclusive Society​ (CGIS) and Health. Its Cambodia 2020 Research Strategy emphasises cross-unit collaboration on the crosscutting issues of sustainability, poverty reduction, governance and institutional arrangements, and gender equity.