Rand Corp. has selected one of its senior managers, Michael Rich, as chief executive and president. He replaces James Thomson, who stepped down in April after leading the Santa Monica institute for 22 years.

Rich, 58, was selected as Rand’s fifth chief executive after a nationwide search. He will lead an institution with 1,700 research associates in 11 offices around the globe and an annual budget of about $250 million.

“Michael Rich emerged from an exceptional group of candidates,” said Rand Chairman Paul Kaminski. “His deep understanding of Rand, his relationship-building skills and his vision for the future led us to conclude he is the best person to lead Rand going forward.”

Rich, a Los Angeles native, joined Rand as a researcher after graduating from UCLA Law School during a time when the institution was primarily focused on research related to the Cold War. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he helped diversify Rand’s research activities to the social sciences, health and other disciplines. He also expanded Rand’s activities in the Middle East and guided the spinoff of an arts-education funding institute.

More recently, Rich led the effort to gain land use entitlements from Santa Monica and the California Coastal Commission to build a new headquarters building, which opened in 2005. Rich said he would continue the institute’s research tradition.

“I believe strongly in the proposition that rigorous and objective analysis leads to more effective policies,” he said. “Rand has been dedicated to that proposition for over 60 years.”