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Posts from the ‘Opinion’ Category

You may be proud of being ranked as a top think tank, but what about your staff?

Evaluations and Rankings can hide the reality of many organisations. It is perfectly possible to be influential and popular while everyone working at the think tank is unhappy and even miserable. An organisation that can be seen, from the outside, to be the envy of all others could be gone from one day to the other if its governance and management is not up to scratch. Here is an example from Sweden.

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Fundraising should be fun… but it is also a very serious matter

Arthur Brooks has found a way of making fundraising fun at the AEI. He argues that it is the role of fundraisers to give philanthropists meaning: to connect their wealth with their convictions. This raises important questions for think tanks. They must think both about what may be politically relevant as well as what may be of interest and importance (literally and figuratively) for their funders. As think tanks in developing countries begin to look for domestic alternatives to foreign funding, these insights may be invaluable.

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Factors to consider when collaborating with other think tanks

Leandro Echt writes about the challenges involved in think tank collaboration. This post was originally written for the On Think Tanks Exchange, an initiative co-supported by the Think Tanks Fund, the Think Tank Initiative and On Think Tanks.

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“Think Tanks in Africa: Catalysts for Ideas and Action” by Dr. Frannie Léautier

In this post Peter da Costa turns his attention to Dr. Frannie Léautier's presentation at the think tank summit. She argues that think tanks play a number of important roles as: Mediators, Trusted Advisors, Transformers, and Independent Thinkers. More importantly, she makes a strong case against the obsession with results: “If ACBF wanted immediate impact it would never have invested in think tanks for more than 20 years!"

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Supporting think tanks series: synthesis of the think pieces -(possible) recommendations

This second post based on a series of think pieces written on supporting think tanks focuses on practical advice for the Knowledge Sector Initiative and similar efforts. It suggests that greater attention must be place on the environment of think tanks and other policy research actors. Of particular importance is to understand the real relationship between donors, grantees, and any contractors charged with delivering the initiatives' missions.

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Supporting think tanks series: synthesis of the think pieces – context related lessons

A year ago, On Think Tanks commissioned a series of think pieces on supporting think tanks for the evaluation of a pilot for the Knowledge Sector Initiative in Indonesia. This post outlines a number of lessons related to the challenges that the context places on think tanks - donor relationships. The think pieces identify at least six key aspects of the context that should appear high in any assessment of think tank support efforts: culture; politics; the labour market; information availability; donor–grantee relationships; and donor/grantee interests.

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Better Sooner than Later: Addressing think tanks’ governance and management challenges to take full advantage of new funding and support opportunities

This last post about Governance and Management presents a discussion on staffing, line management, and monitoring for management. It encourages think tanks and their funders to deal with the elephant in the room sooner than later.

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Better Sooner than Later: Addressing think tanks’ governance and management challenges to take full advantage of new funding and support opportunities

This post outlines a number of important governance and management challenges that think tanks face and that should be dealt with early on in any capacity development effort. They include issues related to their boards, the executive direction, senior management, central services, and the way in which research is organised.

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Better Sooner than Later: Addressing think tanks’ governance and management challenges to take full advantage of new funding and support opportunities

In this first of three posts I outline the importance of addressing Governance and Management challenges early on in any capacity development effort. Leaving these issues for later can lead to insurmountable problems later on and unnecessary waste of the resources allocated to think tanks. Getting the foundations and the basic structure right is crucial.

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Fair is Fair: on contracts and sub-contracts

Contracts stand between think tanks and the funds they need. But these contracts are hardly ever developed for think tanks -or with think tanks in mind. They pose enormous challenges for them, often compromising their own core asset: their intellectual capital. This post considers three typical contracts and puts forward some recommendations to improve the terms of the contracts that think tanks in developing countries receive.

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