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On Think Tanks was founded in mid 2010. It has evolved from a blog into a global platform dedicated to study and support policy research and policy research centres, or think tanks. The members of the On Think Tanks Team and its Advisory Board are spread out across 6 continents!

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  1. 1

    Chinese and Latin American think tanks dialogue: Lima 2016

    In November 2016, On Think Tanks, SinoLatam Forum and Universidad Católica in Perú hosted think tanks from China and Latin America. The dialogue extended for two days during which think tanks from both regions presented their work as well as their organisations to their peers. Among the... Read full article
  2. 2

    New Global Ranking of Think Tanks: is the Chinese version better?

    Ranking things is a universal sport. Think tanks had never quite been the subject of attempts to assess, measure or rank their work. The problem is that when one attempts to rank think tanks (even only measure their influence -which is an obsession of those in the sector) one will inevitably... Read full article
  3. 3

    How does a think tank policy come about? Lessons from China

    In China think tanks are experiencing something of a Golden Age (at least if we consider the number of think tanks founded in the last few years and the support from the Party and the Government for their development). Unlike most other parts of the world, China has a think tank... Read full article
  4. 4

    The deliberative think tank: a function or an entirely new model?

    Think tanks across the world face a number of challenges. Among them, their traditional audiences, policymakers, are increasingly aware that they cannot deal in facts alone. For all the talk about evidence based or evidence informed policy, policy has to take values into account. Often more... Read full article
  5. 5

    Are think tanks in Asia unique?

    Two weeks ago, the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies and Tsinghua University convened a workshop in Beijing that was designed to gather contemporary research on the development of think tanks across Asia. Asia is home to many vibrant and expanding think tank communities, a fact... Read full article
  6. 6

    What are the challenges that Chinese think tanks face?

    For all the talk of a Golden Age of think tanks in China (and for all the support they receive) think tanks (old and new) face a number of challenges. These are similar to those faced by think tanks elsewhere yet with a 'Chinese' flavour. At a recent academic conference on think tanks in Asia... Read full article
  7. 7

    Think Tanks in China: A Golden Age?

    According to many Chinese scholars at an event co-orgnised by the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University in Beijing, think tanks in China are enjoying of a Golden Age. Since President Xi Jinxing called, in... Read full article
  8. 8

    How does the context affect think tanks? Lessons from China

    This is the third post of a series on how context affects think tanks. The first post dealt with a number of challenges that a study into this relationship would face. The second one outlined a series of general hypotheses and research questions that I have been exploring over the last few... Read full article
  9. 9

    How does the context affect think tanks? A few hypotheses and research questions

    This is the second post of a series on how context affects think tanks. The first post dealt with a number of challenges that a study into this relationship would face. In this post I will outline some general hypotheses and research that I have been exploring over the last few years. This... Read full article
  10. 10

    How does the context affect think tanks?

    The Think Tank Initiative has been (and is) very interested in finding out what is the relationship between think tanks’ context and their performance and effectiveness. This is a question that has come up twice in the last year: as part of its mid-term evaluation and now in the form of a... Read full article
  11. 11

    Chinese think tanks: from windows to super highways

    Chinese think tanks are often described in the literature as 'windows' into other political communities. Any government would find it quite had to openly inquire about other countries' political systems. But for the Chinese government this is probably even harder. It makes sense: the closer we... Read full article
  12. 12

    Intellectual independence: how to protect and strengthen it?

    Here are some ideas related to a piece of work I did on a recent trip to China. A key concern for many think tanks is how to protect and strengthen their intellectual independence. Other kinds of independence, I think, may not be possible to ring-fence: think tanks are likely to be financially... Read full article
  13. 13

    Chinese think tanks are more intellectually independent than you think

    Most people I talk to about think tanks in China seem rather doubtful of the possibly of there being any 'real' think tanks there. How could they if they are all controlled by the Party, they say. My usual answer to that type of accusation is that all think tanks are controlled by someone. The... Read full article
  14. 14

    Bigger roles for Chinese think tanks

    Hu Yongii of China Daily has written an article on how the period of transition that the Chinese government is currently undergoing has expanded Chinese think tanks' role, by being more frequently consulted by government officials and agencies. Think tanks offer advice on their specialty... Read full article
  15. 15

    New trends for Chinese Think Tanks

    China has had a long tradition of think tanks serving as policy researchers and governmental advisors. Currently, according to Xufeng Zhu, Director of the Centre of Chinese Policy Science, and Associate Director of the Centre for MPA Education, Nankai University, there seems to be a new trend... Read full article
  16. 16

    Windows into the world: a think tank function

    I've written about think tanks as 'windows' before: Particularly Chinese think tanks. The idea comes from Murray Scot Tanner's Changing Windows on a Changing China: The Evolving "Think Tank" System and the Case of the Public Security Sector. In it he argues that Chinese think tanks were set up... Read full article
  17. 17

    China’s Think Tanks – Multifaceted and Multi-Dimensional Policy Actors

    Seldom do we pass a day without a major cover story on China’s rise and its growing global influence. Almost every aspect of its ascent is dissected and deciphered to no end. One of the key domestic forces within China engaged in this effort are think tanks. Since opening up in... Read full article
  18. 18

    “Sea Turtles” or “returnees” behind China’s think tank growth

    This is a very interesting paper by Cheng Li on the trends of think tanks in China -with particular emphasis on the roles being played by influential returnees such as Justin Lin. The paper also highlight the new roles played by policymakers, entrepreneurs and intellectuals in these new... Read full article
  19. 19

    Think tanks in East and Southeast Asia

    We have just published a paper on Think tanks in East and Southeast Asia that we worked on last year. Think tanks across the developed and developing world have received considerable attention in recent times with western donors investing in developing country think tanks on a large scale.... Read full article