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Posts from the ‘Opinion’ Category

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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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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