Gottlieb Duttweiler laid the foundation stone for the "construction of an international educational and research institute" in 1962, shortly before his death. But the idea was much older than that.

In 1946 (on Christmas Day), the legendary Migros founder and his wife Adele transferred their enormous Rüschlikon estate, Langhalden, to a foundation. The aim of building an institute on this site was already enshrined in the first deed of foundation.

Inaugurated in 1963 – an event Duttweiler was no longer around to experience – the GDI was Switzerland's first independent think tank. With its choice of often controversial topics, it soon made a name for itself, also outside Switzerland. As far back as 1964, the GDI hosted a conference on late-night opening for stores, and it held others on "Cashless shopping in the retail sector" in 1969, "Are our cities suffocating in traffic?" in 1970 and "Organic farming" in 1974.

A new office wing was built in 1988, and a second expansion was completed in 2008 when an additional floor was added and the entire infrastructure was thoroughly modernised.

Directors of the Institute

1963 – 1964 Jørgen Thygesen

1964 – 1979 Hans A. Pestalozzi

1979 – 1980 Jürg Marx (ad interim)

1980 – 1998 Christian Lutz

1999 – 2020 David Bosshart

Since 2021 Lukas Jezler

Biography of Gottlieb Duttweiler

1888 - Gottlieb Duttweiler is born in Zurich on 15 August

1907 - Completes commercial apprenticeship

1913 - Marries Adele Bertschi

1923 - Farmer in Brazil

1925 - Founds Migros AG

1935 - Enters politics as a member of the Lower House of the Swiss Parliament

1941 - Migros AG is converted into a cooperative society and transferred to the customers

1944 - Founds Migros Club Schools

1962 - Lays foundation stone of GDI

1962 - Gottlieb Duttweiler dies in Zurich on 8 June