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Posts from the ‘Opinion’ Category

A national ranking of influence: Chinese and American models

Two think tank rankings have been published recently: one for Chinese think tanks and one for US think tanks. Both have been developed by think tanks themselves and both have attempted to be as context specific and objective as possible. While they use different methods they offer an excellent opportunity for comparative research on think tanks.

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Want to be relevant? Learn how politics work -and have fun in the process

Comedy about politics serves other purposes beside entertainment. They can foster a richer political environment in which think tanks may be able to make greater contributions.

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Stocktaking on Research Quality at the Think Tank Initiative Exchange

In this post Andrea Ordoñez writes about research quality. She identified three levels of responsibility: the individual, the organisation, and society. She argues that to deliver high quality research all three need to be addressed.

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Addressing think tank transparency: one of the elephants in the room

Think tank transparency is an issue that is here to stay. A group of funders and think tanks got together at the Think Tank Initiative's Global Exchange in Istanbul to discuss its pros and cons and consider how to address the growing demand for transparency. This post outlines the reasons for and against it, what think tank transparency may involve, and what could think tanks and their funders do about.

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Domestic think tank funding: what can foreign donors do?

Domestic funding is the only sustainable option for think tanks in developing countries. But getting there, moving away from a dependence on foreign funding, will take time and lots of innovation. Foreign funders have a responsibility to explore different options and encourage their grantees to try them out.

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The Think Tank Initiative Global Exchange: the elephants in the room

There have been a few issues missing from the Think Tank Initiative 2015 Global Exchange: governance and management, funding and business models, and transparency. Here are some ideas for discussion.

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A quick and dirty “Transparify-like” assessment of US think tanks

Think tank transparency promises to be one of the most important issues of 2015. In this post we present a DIY rating of some of the most popular US think tanks to accompany Transparify's own rating and annual report.

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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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