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Think Tanks and their Context

This series, edited by Elizabeth Brown, Aprille Knox, and Courtney Tolmie at Results for Development, focuses on think tanks and their context. The series addresses a subject of great importance to think tanks as well as to those supporting them. It provides a substantial contribution to On Think Tanks’ efforts to promote a more nuanced discussion on the subject -presented below as a secondary series. The main series is based on the study “Linking Think Tank Performance, Decisions, and Context,” undertaken by Results for Development Institute in partnership with the University of Washington and with generous support by the Think Tank Initiative.
  1. 1

    Introduction to the series on think tanks and context

    Context matters when it comes to think tanks. That much we know. But how does it affect think tanks exactly and what can they do about it? This new series of think tanks and their context edited by by Elizabeth Brown, Aprille Knox, and Courtney Tommie. Read full article
  2. 2

    What is the state of research on think tanks and context?

    This is the second post in a series looking at think tanks and their contexts. Elizabeth Brown outlines the methodological details of a study undertaken by Results for Development and the University of Washington addressing a crucial question: how to study think tanks and their context? Read full article
  3. 3

    What is a think tank’s endogenous capacity and why does it matter?

    In this third post in the series of think tanks and their context, April Knox asks how think tanks can leverage their won endogenous capacities for impact. She outlines a number of strategies that think tanks can follow, including: collaboration, building their credibility, ensuring research quality, communicating strategically, and others. Read full article
  4. 4

    Context matters: so what?

    This fourth post in the series she tries to narrow down the by now universal truism that "context matters". Courtney Tolmie challenges the statement that context matters by asking: so what? What about it is it that matters? Read full article
  5. 5

    What is the upshot from our meditation on context as it relates to think tanks?

    This last post on the effect of context on think tanks presents a way forward from the research. Elizabeth Brown offers a framework and a series of questions that think tanks can use to manage key decisions strategically. Read full article
Other resources on the context of think tanks could be included here as background reading. These reflect research and analysis undertaken by On Tanks, independently of the study presented above.
  1. 6

    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
  2. 7

    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
  3. 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