Think tanks, an instrument for development

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Think tanks, an instrument for development

  1. 1. Think Tanks Dr. Zargari, Academic Staff of Azad University Fall 2004 drzargari@gmail.com
  2. 2. Dr. Zargari ‫تفکر‬ ‫کانونهای‬
  3. 3. Dr. Zargari :‫اسلم‬ ‫گرامی‬ ‫پیامبر‬ ‫است‬ ‫برتر‬ ‫تفکر‬ ‫ساعت‬ ‫یک‬ ‫عبادت‬ ‫سال‬ ‫هفتاد‬ ‫از‬
  4. 4. Dr. Zargari Think tank is: a non-profit non-governmental public policy institution. A group organized for intensive research and solving of problems, especially in the areas of technology, social or political strategy. WHAT IS A THINK TANK AND WHAT IT DOES?
  5. 5. Dr. Zargari Original meaning (1900-05): “brain” Current meaning (1955-60): a body of experts, as a research organization, providing advice and ideas on specific national or commercial problems (OED) My definition here: independent, private, non-partisan, non-profit research organizations, whose goal is to influence government policy making or implementation (500 TT in U.S.) WHAT IS A THINK TANK AND WHAT IT DOES?
  6. 6. Dr. Zargari Think tanks affect policy process in two ways: 1-Directly communicating to policy-makers 2-Informing the public WHAT IS A THINK TANK AND WHAT IT DOES?
  7. 7. Dr. Zargari TYPOLOGY of THINK TANKS Academic Research Institutes (‘universities without students’) Government contract researchers Advocacy think tanks Party-affiliated
  8. 8. Dr. Zargari “University without students:” Quality academic research; focus on long-term impact; research fellow like professors Examples: Brookings, AEI, Carnegie Endowment Government contractors Funded by government department / agencies; address specific concerns of policy-makers Examples: RAND, Urban Institute Advocacy think tanks Research plus aggressive marketing; actively participate in policy debate Heritage, CATO TYPOLOGY of THINK TANKS
  9. 9. Dr. Zargari KEY FUNCTIONS of THINK TANKS 1) Source of basic research on policy problems. (2) Providing policy advice to government officials. (3) Evaluation of government programs. (4) Platforms and facilitators for exchange of ideas (5) Suppliers of Personnel to Governments. (6) Suppliers of expert statements to media.
  10. 10. Dr. Zargari FACTORS FACILATING ENTRY TO THINK TANKS Societies in transition: profound reform agenda and intensive policy debates ++ Availability of human capital ++ Culture of philanthropy and civil society activism -/+-/+ Availability of donors’ funding ++ Enabling legal and regulatory regime ++
  11. 11. Dr. Zargari COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE of THINK TANKS 1-Organizational flexibility and thematic versatility 2-Access to donors’ resources 3-Professional capacity and intellectual authority 4-Links to government and other stakeholders.
  12. 12. Dr. Zargari 61% 56% 48% 22% 4% Limited opportunities to conduct policy studies in old institutions Recognition of think tank model advantages and demand for think tank products Leader’s initiative Massive initial support of a donor Completion of a technical assistance project “ Revolving door” pattern: alternation between government and think tank positions. IMPULSES to SET UP a THINK TANK
  13. 13. Dr. Zargari OPERATIONS Assets (think tanks relying on a particular asset, %) 100% 68% 55% 55% 41% 32% 27% 23% Professional knowledge and experience Reputation in the professional community Reputation with government Stable relations of trust with government officials Access to exclusive sources of information Reputation with donors Reputation in the society and with media Cooperation with leading foreign experts
  14. 14. Dr. Zargari Importance of relations with government officials – an indicator of think tanks’ direct feeding their studies to the policy-making quarters. Importance of reputation with colleagues – an indication of intensive professional networking. OPERATIONS
  15. 15. Dr. Zargari Modes of operation Most think tanks work in a hand-to-mouth manner, and undertake projects only if they come with tied sources of funding unless there are earmarked sources of funding. Donors more often support projects, not institutions (USAID uses both options). Despite the scarcity of long-term revenue sources, almost ¾ of surveyed think tanks function without interruption, while the rest work from one project to another, with possible gaps in the interim. Institutions from the first group consider their stability as satisfactory, although requiring non-stop vigorous fundraising. Others consider stability of their organizations as insufficient. None of the surveyed think tanks considers its future as fully secure. This creates strong performance incentives, but diminishes opportunities for long-term investments and planning. OPERATIONS
  16. 16. Dr. Zargari Outreach and disseminationOutreach and dissemination Survey data reveal threeSurvey data reveal three distinct clusters of think tanksdistinct clusters of think tanks: OPERATIONS
  17. 17. Dr. Zargari MAPPING THINK TANKS Relations to the state The Anglo-American think tank model requires autonomy from the state as a sine qua non of think tank’s independence and impartiality. Continental and Asian think tank models are more tolerant to think tanks’ close links to government – both in terms of funding and communication of policy outputs. German think tanks heavily rely on government funding, and in France corporate intrusion in think tank activities is viewed askance. Russian think tanks bear imprints of multiple models – they are more government-oriented than in the US, but do not have long-term government support available to many European and Asian institutions.
  18. 18. Dr. Zargari ‫جهان‬ ‫كل‬--------------321 ‫امريكا‬--------------76 ‫ژاپن‬--------------24 ‫آلمان‬--------------13 ‫كانادا‬--------------8 ‫مالزي‬--------------4 ‫ايران‬--------------1 ‫جهان‬ ‫در‬ ‫تفكر‬ ‫هاي‬ ‫كانون‬
  19. 19. Dr. Zargari OUTLETS of THINK TANKS ’ WORKS Books, journal articles Monographs, reports, occasional papers Short pieces of policy brief Op-ed pieces Other informal channels • Conferences, panel discussions • Policy training programs • Media appearance

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