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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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The CGD model for think tanks

The Center for Global Development (CGD) in Washington DC offers an interesting model for think tanks. Most importantly, it has dedicated efforts to reflect on what it has done and achieved and shared its learnings through a series of papers and blog posts. Here we provide some insights into this model.  
  1. 1

    A few initiatives, not many projects, may be the secret to success

    Lawrence MacDonald and Todd Moss have published an essay that seeks to distill what they think they have learned in the past dozen years since the Center for Global Development's foundation. These lessons are of great relevance to organisations thinking about reviewing their research agendas and organisational strategies. In this post we consider how the initiatives approach can help think tanks organise themselves, seek influence, and assess their success. Read full article
  2. 2

    “People, not organisations, make for the best partners”

    The Center for Global Development published a paper on lessons they learned over the last 12 years. A key lesson is that people make better partners than organisations. This is an important lessons for many think tanks whose funders or their own ideas often demand that they develop organisational rather than individual partnerships. CGD presents excellent reasons and advice. Read full article
  3. 3

    “People with competence, freedom, and responsibility are the key to success”

    Governance and management remain two key challenges for think tanks in developing countries. Unfortunately, manuals, guides, and workshops won't do it. But until the next generation of think tank managers is ready to take over, CGD offers and interesting model to follow: hire the right people, give them freedom, and shared responsibility over the think tank's leadership. Read full article
  4. 4

    For think tanks, big is not always better

    Growth has become a way of life for many think tanks. Growth means more income, it means covering more policy issues, more visibility, more influence. But growth can also come with higher costs, complexity, mixed messages, fuzzy missions, etc. CGD's Lawrence MacDonald and Todd Moss offer their view on avoiding growth inertia. Read full article
  5. 5

    CGD, the cult of ideas and policy change

    Last week I was lucky to be invited to join the Center for Global Development's senior staff in their bi-weekly lunch meetings. I won't discuss what was said at the meeting but I thought it was worth sharing a couple of things that I learned that day. The first thing is that CGD seems to be... Read full article
  6. 6

    Book Review: 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. Read full article