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Posts from the ‘Opinion’ Category

Policy Window approach to influence

Think tanks often struggle to keep up with an ever changing agenda. Their efforts to influence unexpected and often chaotic policy processes present significant challenges to their typically project-based business models. By adopting a policy window approach to their research and communications work, however, they may be able to gain some control over their environment.

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Communications as an Orchestra

Communicating is like playing music. Heads of communications need to behave as the conductor of an orchestra. They must prepare their musicians and their instruments to be ready to entertain their audience, keep them engaged, and 'move' them, even encourage them to sing along. This post outlines an alternative to strategic communication plans.

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Influencing efforts should affect their influencing objectives -and viceversa

This post argues that we cannot continue to accept the oversimplification of the complex relationship between ideas, politics and the efforts to transform them. Accepting expressions like "research to action" and "evidence informed/based policy" reinforces the notion that there is a natural and unlovable pecking and logic order: first research then influence. Instead, change, within and outside an organisation, happens in the midst of a co-evolution of influencing objectives and efforts.

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Lessons from 2014

Before we bid farewell to 2014 let us revisit some of the better ideas and stories of the year. Also, let us reflect on a few developments at On Think Tanks.

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An initiative model for a plural think tank: a space of policy ideas

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.

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The one billion dollar business: American think tanks

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.

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How to produce a public event

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.

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What happens when foreign donors leave (and they will)? Domestic funders wanted

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.

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Celebrating and learning about think tanks

The Premio PODER to think tank in Peru has provided an opportunity to celebrate the good work of think tanks but also to learn quite a lot about them. It has offered insights into the definition of think tank in the country, their business models, their contributions to society, and their influencing approaches. This blog outlines some of these lessons and argues that this is a model that could be replicated in other countries.

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Criticism or defamation?

What happens when a think tank critiques the government? Not much should happen. But what happens if the government and their leaders decide to use the law to punish them? Defamation legislation is emerging as a possible risk to think tanks.

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