What can plural think tanks do when faced with a highly political and ideologically charged issues? They cannot fully commit to a single policy option when some of their own researchers are fiercely against it. This kind of internal opposition can even kill great ideas. This blog post puts forward a new approach for plural think tanks. It argues that it is possible to be the source of a solution even if this solution has been developed elsewhere. Creating the space for debate is a function that needs to be given more attention to.
Posts from the ‘Opinion’ Category
Transapreify has shared some interesting data on 21 US think tanks. We put together a few data visualisations to see if we could make a bit more sense of the data. The picture is a complex and exiting one. It turns out that being big does not necessarily mean you are more visible and this says little about the perception others have of you. When it comes to think tank, painting by numbers if not enough; we need a freestyle painting.
Public events are an excellent communication and convening tool for think tanks but few use them to their full potential. This post outlines some advice on how to produce an event for impact. It argues that events can be cheap and entertaining -for speakers and audiences alike- but they have to be produced more carefully.
Foreign funding for think tanks has raised a few eyebrows lately. There is an increasing concern that this involves meddling with domestic politics. In developing countries this comes alongside an already very drying up of foreign funds for research. Domestic funders, especially corporations, foundations and individual philanthropists will have to step in to pick up the bill. Think tanks, however, will have to rethink how they raise funds and work if they want to tap into this opportunity.
Organisational change is becoming as core an activity as research for many think tanks. Funding is increasingly conditioned to changes or reforms within the organisation. Not all think tanks have the capacity to manage this change, however. They can learn from each other, they can contract experts and consultants to support them, and they may even rely on their own skills. But many more could do with more support on this front. Think tank funders interested in organisational development should invest in their own organisational change capacity to service the think tanks they support.
The exact definition of think tanks eludes us. With more and more organisations using the label to describe themselves, how can we decide what is and what isn't one. The Premio PODER to the best Peruvian think tanks provides an opportunity to set out the boundaries of a fluid and porous definition. One that is likely to change over time as more (or fewer) organisations assume the functions we associate with think tanks.