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Posts from the ‘Research’ Category

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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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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What do partisan think tanks seek?

Non-partisan think tanks are praised by their neutrality. But, as Claudio Jones argues, partisan think tanks play an important and necessary function in any democracy -certainly in emerging ones. In this post he outlines some characteristics of partisan think tanks, the challenges they face, and the functions they can fulfil.

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Insight into factors affecting perceptions of performance in policy communities (Part 2)

In his second post, Philippe Martin outlines some of the key findings of his study of the effect that certain contextual factors have on think tanks' performance. He concludes with a number of interesting research questions to inform any efforts for further analysis.

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Insight into factors affecting perceptions of performance in policy communities (Part 1)

Philippe Martin has used the Think Tank Initiative's database to test a number of hypothesis about the effect that certain contextual factors have on think tanks' performance. In this first post of two, he outlines some of the hypothesis studied.

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A think tank ‘knowledge society’ index – is it possible?

David Walker presents and discusses a Knowledge Society Index developed to attempt to explain the effect of the context on think tanks formation and success. Developing such an index presents an attractive opportunity to quantify the fussy relationship between context and think tanks but leads to critical challenges that David addresses. What do you think of the index? Are the costs and challenges too large to merit the effort?

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‘Think tanks in America’ by Thomas Medvetz

Thomas Medvetz 2013 book, Think Tanks in America, describes think tanks as political operators and provides a great account of how they go about claiming and gaining political power for themselves and their sector. The book provides a critical history of think tanks in the US that shines a new light on them; from technocratic and neutral knights to ideological and partisan knaves (not all of course). Read the book.

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What Should Think Tanks Do? Read this book to find out

Lawrence MacDonald has written a post reflecting on Andrew Selee's new book, "What Should Think Tanks Do? A Strategic Guide to Policy Impact". He argues that having a strategy can be useful but is not always necessary. CGD offers an interesting alternative.

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Find Policy: “Ideas Worth Searching”

Find Policy is a new website offering targeted search. See what the leading think tanks are saying about specific issues. Hans Gutbrod describes why such faster and more focused search can be useful, and why it will can help less prominent institutions.

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