In spite of the fact that many of the most prominent think tanks in the US, starting with the Brookings Institution, the New America Foundation, or the Bipartisan Policy Center, to name just a few, are significantly supported by foundations, there is a formidable lack of academic research on the nature of their relationship and the evaluation demands they place on their grantees.
Evaluation studies are one of the very few ways in which foundations can estimate their results on grantee investments, including think tanks. At the same time, the adoption of evaluation and self-evaluation practices at think tanks is met with very strict constraints regarding the measurement of research uptake and policy impact. Often, foundation program officers rely on their own judgment to make decisions of where and how to allocate their funds.
Want to learn more? Long Course on Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning for Policy Influence
González-Capitel’s thesis sought to identify whether think tanks in the United States are attempting to evaluate their influence, document existing practices, and determine to which degree the adoption of these practices is a result of funding demands exerted by foundations.
You can read more on the research question, the methods used and the main findings in this post.His thesis is available here: Who Used Our Findings? Framing Collaborations between American Foundations and Think Tanks Through Practices in the Evaluation of Policy Influence.
The webinar will focus on the approaches and methods used by US foundations and think tanks to evaluate policy research –and its impact.
To do so, it will introduce the general practices of think tanks, but also the most innovative practices identified in the expert interviews. On the one hand, think tanks tend to promote their presence in terms of how many products they put out, how many times they are quoted in the media, or how often do they appear before congress. Slowly but surely, foundations are attracting them towards more ambitious attempts to understand influence that usually include an increased interest in the research uptake of core constituencies, but also the gravitation towards more explicit advocacy efforts.
About the speaker
Jaime González-Capitel, MA in Communication, Culture and Technology, Georgetown University and Fulbright alumnus, is Coordinator of Observatorio de Think Tanks, a platform that promotes more visibility for independent policy research in Spain through original scholarship and advocacy campaigns. He is also a Research Associate at the Common Action Forum an international non-profit foundation established in Madrid, Spain, in 2015 that seeks to build independent platforms of cooperation, research, innovation and advisory to empower global citizens in tackling socio-political issues and economic inequalities.