Short course: Strategic governance and management for think tanks

Organised by On Think Tanks
Event type Courses
Location Online
Start date 1 November 2017
End date 29 November 2017

The subject of think tank governance and management rarely gets the attention that research and communications receive. However, poor governance arrangements and limited management capacity are most likely to explain any shortfalls in research quality and communication impact. Executive Director transitions can put the survival of a think tank at risk if the governance is not strong enough. Even greatly designed fundraising campaigns can fail to deliver their objectives if an organisation’s management is unable to cope with the sudden increase in funds -and responsibilities.

Over the years, On Think Tanks has gathered resources, experiences, and recommendations to strengthen the governance and management of think tanks. This Short Course offers an opportunity to explore these issues in greater  detail and reflect on different governance models.

The course is set at the end of a series of short courses focusing on Policy Relevant Research, Communications (data visualisations and publications), Monitoring and Evaluation, and Fundraising to help the participants reflect on how the governance of the think tank may affect them.

Objectives of the course

  • Learn to address strategic planning, governance, and management from the outset.
  • Learn to make your think tank adaptable to growth and/or externally driven changes.

Who is this for?

This short course is aimed at buddying think tank leaders and any one interested in finding out how these organisations function.

If you are a young think tanker interested in the inner-working of your organisations, the course will give you the tools you need to understand what goes on at board meetings or senior management meetings. It will give you an appreciation for management skills.

Young managers (researchers and communicators) interested in enhancing their own performance would benefit from strengthening their grip on the organisation’s governance and management.

The course includes

A Background note on governance and management

  • Introduction to governance and management for think tanks: What are the principal governance elements of a think tank, what is the role of management, how can effective governance and management address think tanks’ challenges?
  • Boards, Senior Management, and Line Management: What are the main options for think tank boards?  What is the role of senior management in a think tank?

An online discussion forum: What are the necessary skills for a great think tank boss?

Two webinars, with Enrique Mendizabal:

Webinar 1: Board composition and roles

  • What are the main functions of a think tank board?
  • How to choose the most effective board members?
  • How to manage a board for maximum support?

Webinar 2: Managing for think tanks

  • What are the roles of management in a think tank?
  • How can management make a difference in research and communications?
  • Key management skills for thinktankers

Personal task: Carry out a brief needs assessment on Governance and Management for your organisation and make recommendations for improvement.

Course dynamic

The course includes a combination of theoretical materials, webinars led by trainers, a forum for ongoing discussion with trainers and participants and a practical exercise. The course kicks off with a background note and the launch of the online forum. Two webinars will take place through an online platform and will be recorded for those participants who cannot attend the webinar dates. The online forum is available through the duration of the course for peer exchange. Participants will submit a personal task by the end of the course, which will receive personalised feedback from the trainer. Trainer will also share reading materials and other resources. Finally, a certificate of participation will be given to participants who submit their personal tasks.

Key dates

Kick-off: November 1st, 2017

Webinar 1: November 8th, 2017

Webinar 2: November 22nd, 2017

Delivery of exercise: November 29th, 2017

Exact times of the webinars will be defined once we know who is participating.


Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 16.59.26Enrique Mendizabal: Enrique is the Founder and Director of On Think Tanks. Until December 2010 he worked for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) where he headed the Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme. At ODI he co-founded the Outcome Mapping Learning Community. Enrique is the co-founder of Politics and Ideas, the Peruvian Alliance for the Use of Evidence, and the Premio PODER al Think Tank Peruano del Año. He lives in Lima (Peru) but spends quite some time in London and travelling to visit think tanks across the world. He combines this with travel writing and coffee roasting.


The short course costs GBP 125.00. You may also join by signing up to the entire series of 7 Short Courses at GBP 700.00 for the series.

Early bird registration fee for the course is GBP 105.00 (only for the first five registrations) and for the entire series is GBP 600.00 (only for the first five registrations)

Check out other courses in the Evolving Think Tanks Series 2017.

Join the course by registering below through Eventbrite.

Before signing-up review our Terms and Conditions.