Conclusion

Closing Thoughts

Think tanks shape the policy space in many ways, from analyzing ideas and policy performance to educating decision makers and fostering debate. A wise think tank leader, though, will not dive into every contest and opportunity that is presented. It is too easy for the power of ideas to get lost in the cacophony of issues, actors, and decision points,
not to mention the challenges in operating sustainable organizations. A leader of a think tank therefore will do well by remembering the following:

  • Focus on the fundamentals. Use the nine common keys to success.
  • Act as a broker of knowledge. Link and leverage policy assets and point to opportunities for change.
  • Position the institute strategically. Then execute the strategy and build momentum.
  • Be creative, nimble, and learn from experience.

Time and again, CIPE sees the value and versatility of think tanks in driving democratic policy processes and winning market reforms. They bring analytical skills that the business community typically lacks. They bring a distinctive, credible voice to policy advocacy. And they bring a rare clarity to issues, which assists decision making for the benefit of all concerned. In many parts of the world, there is still a shortage of strong, independent economic think tanks that advocate for change. If you are on this path, CIPE someday may be telling the story of your policy work that expands prosperity and freedom for all.

The Resources section provides links to our partner think tanks and additional resources.

Sources

  • CIPE Governance Roadmap, created for CIPE by Association Options LLC
  • Center for International Private Enterprise, How to Advocate Effectively: A Guidebook for Business Associations (Washington, DC: CIPE), 2007.
  • Chong, Dennis, and James N. Druckman. “Framing Theory.” In Annual Review of Political Science 10 (2007).
  • Cornell, Thomas F. “Ideas into Action: Think Tanks and Democracy.” Economic Reform Today (1996, no. 3).
  • Despradel, Carlos. “Center for Economic Orientation.” In Invigorating Democracy: Think Tanks in Central Europe. Washington, DC: Center for International Private Enterprise, 1996.
  • Drucker, Peter F. Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Practices and Principles. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.
  • Dunn, William N. “A Look Inside Think Tanks.” Economic Reform Today (1996, no. 3).
  • Hafner, Dudley. “Building the Donor Constituency.” Interview in Managing the Non-Profit Organization. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.
  • James, Simon. “The Idea Brokers: The Impact of Think Tanks on British Government.” Public Administration 71 (Winter 1993).
  • Johnson, Erik C. “Central Europe’s Think Tanks: A Voice for Reform.” In Invigorating Democracy: Think Tanks in Central Europe. Washington, DC: Center for International Private Enterprise, 1996.
  • Johnson, Erik C. “How Think Tanks Improve Public Policy.” Economic Reform Today (1996, no. 3).
  • Johnson, Erik C. Improving Public Policy in the Middle East and North Africa: Institution Building for Think Tanks. Report on the Conference “How to Market Ideas: From Education to Advocacy.” Cairo: Center for International Private Enterprise and World Bank, November 3-4, 1997.
  • Johnson, Erik C. “Think Tanks in Sub-Saharan Africa.” In Think Tanks and Civil Societies: Catalysts for Ideas and Action, ed. James G. McGann and R. Kent Weaver. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2000.
  • Judy, Richard. “A Guide to Cost-Benefit Analysis.” Economic Reform Today (1996, no. 3).
  • Kingdon, John W. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. 2nd ed. New York: Longman, 2003.
  • Kotler, Philip. “Defining the Market.” Interview in Managing the Non-Profit Organization. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.
  • Kwong, Jo. “Collective Wisdom from the Atlas Network: ‘Ten Things That Helped My Institute Take Off’.” In The Think Tank Primer: Strategies for Advancing Freedom Around the World, ed. Jo Kwong. Washington, DC: Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Available at http://atlasnetwork.org/services.html
  • Polletta, Francesca, and M. Kai Ho. “Frames and Their Consequences.” In The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis, ed. Robert E. Goodin and Charles Tilly. Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Quigley, Kevin F. F. “Towards Sustainability: Securing Resources for Think Tanks in Central and Eastern Europe.” In Invigorating Democracy: Think Tanks in Central Europe. Washington, DC: Center for International Private Enterprise, 1996.
  • R. Kent Weaver and James G. McGann, “Think Tanks and Civil Societies in a Time of Change,” in Think Tanks and Civil Societies: Catalysts for Ideas and Action, ed. McGann and Weaver (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2000), page 13.
  • Rich, Andrew. Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise. Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Smith, Kevin B., and Christopher W. Larimer. The Public Policy Theory Primer. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2009.
  • Stone, Diane. Capturing the Political Imagination: Think Tanks and the Policy Process. Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1996.
  • Struyk, Raymond J. Managing Think Tanks: Practical Guidance for Maturing Organizations, 2nd ed. Budapest: Open Society Institute and Urban Institute, 2006).
  • Truluck, Phillip N. “Think Tanks as Advocates of Change.” Economic Reform Today (1996, no. 3).
  • Villegas, Bernardo M. “Center for Research and Communication.” In Invigorating Democracy: Think Tanks in Central Europe. Washington, DC: Center for International Private Enterprise, 1996.
  • Wallack, Howard A. “How to Become More Effective in Marketing Policy.” In Invigorating Democracy: Think Tanks in Central Europe. Washington, DC: Center for International Private Enterprise, 1996.
  • Wallack, Howard A., and Robert Mashek. “A Guide to Effective Marketing of Policies.” Economic Reform Today (1996, no. 3).
  • Weaver, R. Kent, and James G. McGann. “Think Tanks and Civil Societies in a Time of Change.” In Think Tanks and Civil Societies: Catalysts for Ideas and Action, ed. James G. McGann and R. Kent Weaver. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2000.