Governance and management of policy research organisations

14 August 2018
SERIES OTT School Library

Governance refers to the organisational arrangements of an institution, and how decision-making processes take place. It involves the rules and norms of the interactions within the organisation, and how all the different parts are brought together. Management on the other hand relates to how the organisation functions, how it is staffed, it´s organisational makeup, leadership, project management, human resources etc. Ensuring good governance and good management enable think tanks to deliver their missions.

Standalone webinars

Introductory webinar. Strategic governance for think tanks: a focus on boards

Presenter: Enrique Mendizabal (On Think Tanks)
July 26 2018

This introductory webinar discusses boards as a strategic aspect of think tank governance. In it Enrique covers the basic definition of think tank governance and how it differs from management. He argues that good governance underpins good management, and good management is necessary to deliver a think tank´s mission as it affects a think tanks capacity to: attract and manage funds, carry out high quality research, and attract talent etc.

Enrique also discusses the role that boards should ideally play in a think tank, and the challenges that think tank leaders face regarding them. He also explains the different types of boards that exist, and discusses the pros and cons of each, delving on what can leaders do to better work with their boards and maximise the use of their skills, expertise and contacts.

Changing your business model

Presenters: Guillermo Gonzalez (Espacio Público, Chile), Julie La France (Think Tank Initiative) Ana Patricia Muñoz (Grupo Faro, Ecuador). Facilitated by: Leandro Echt (On Think Tanks)

May 2018

In this webinar Guillermo Gonzalez (former Director of Espacio Público in Chile), describes the 180 degree business model change that the think tank went through, from solely relying in core funding to a strong project based funding. Guillermo discusses the context that led them to make that change and shares the steps, challenges and lessons learned in the process. Ana Patricia (Director of Grupo Faro, Ecuador) comments the experience and how it could be applied to other think tanks. Julie La France comments and discusses the experience from her perspective as a donor.

This webinar was organised by OTT and ILAIP as part of the series of webinars “Fortaleciendo la sostenibilidad financiera de ILAIPP y sus miembros” (Strengthening the financial sustainability of ILAIPP and its members).

Smart project budgeting for think tanks

Presenter: Amanda Jones (ODI). Facilitated by: Leandro Echt (On Think Tanks)

November 2017

Amanda´s webinar focuses on the sustainability of organisations and how smart budgeting is a necessary tool for it. From the perspective of a project manager in ODI, she shares her experiences on how to budget projects in a smart way. ODI used to be core funded and, due to the changing funding environment moved onto being strongly project funded. This change entailed a variety of changes in how they organised and managed their research projects. In the webinar Amanda first discusses different donors and the different budgets that they require. Then core of the presentation is dedicated to showing how to make sure all costs are covered: fee rates, direct costs and suggestion on where to get information. She also discusses overheads (sometimes called management fees), what they include and how to incorporate them. As one of the main messages, she highlights the importance of planning, learning from past experiences, and understanding the donor that you are dealing with.

How to design a portfolio of services

Presenter: Hans Gutbrod. Facilitated by: Leandro Echt (On Think Tanks)

June 2017

In this webinar Hans shares his own experience on designing a think tank’s portfolio of services. He shares lessons on what worked well (and what didn’t) when the think tank he worked for expanded his portafolio of services.The main message is that: context matters, and the services that can be offered depend on the context in which the think tank operates. He discusses the range of activities (not necessarily products) that a think tank can get paid for: research, consulting, convening, communications, ensuring impact etc. All of these services should aim to generate income to a think tank and ensure its sustainability.

This webinar was organised by OTT and ILAIP as part of the series of webinars “Fortaleciendo la sostenibilidad financiera de ILAIPP y sus miembros” (Strengthening the financial sustainability of ILAIPP and its members).


Short Course: Strategic Governance and Management for think tanks

Presenter: Enrique Mendizabal (On Think Tanks)

November 2017

In the first session  Enrique first describes what does governance and management entail for think tanks, why they are important, and the difference between them He then describes key aspects of governance (different types of boards and the roles they play) and defines the characteristics of an ideal board. He then goes on to describe the ideal relationship of the board with the leadership and staff of a think tank.  He wraps it up with some case studies on leadership transitions and support to researchers.

Webinar 2 focuses on key aspects of think tank management, as well as the different ways that research teams can be organised. It also covers line-management (a potentially divisive issue) and finalises with ways to carry out staff appraisals as both a management and a learning tool.

The background note produced for this course explores these issues further and gives readers access to further resources.

Selected articles and resources

The following are a list of resources to complement the webinars