Globalization and the growth of think tanks

Globalization and the growth of think tanks

Why are Think tanks proliferating and diversifying?

The article emphasises the remarkable proliferation of think tanks. This proliferation has been propelled by many factors. These include:

Growing demand for information and analysis. In an increasingly complex, interdependent and information-rich world, governments and individual policy makers face the common problem of bringing expert knowledge to bear in governmental decision making. Policy makers need basic information about the societies they govern, about how current policies are working, possible alternatives and their likely costs and consequences. Independent public policy research organisations, commonly known as think tanks have filled policy makers insatiable need for information and systematic analysis that is policy relevant.

The civil society ideal. There have been substantial changes in the perceived importance of autonomous (i.e., non-state) organizations. They are perceived as vital in encouraging democracy to prosper. This interest in civil society has stimulated interest in think tanks as alternative sources of information on issues of national and local concern and potential critic of government policy that can speak with an objective voice independent of government and the business community.

Improved communication technologies. It has become much easier for organizations and individuals to collaborate across vast distances, for think tanks to disseminate the results of their research, and for consumers of think tanks products to access that research using the World Wide Web.

Globalization of think tank funding. Much of the impetus for the growth in think tanks in the developing and transitional economies has been the flow of money from industrialized economies. Whilst his increases the resources available to think tanks in the developing and transitional economies, it is associated with two problems. One, it can raise questions about the credibility of think tanks' research and policy recommendations: if foreign donors are providing money for a think tank, might they not be dictating its conclusions as well? It also creates a weaning problem: having become dependent on outside financing, can the think tank develop stable income sources before the foreign funder or funders themselves decide to pull the plug?

Political change and the New World order. The collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union; increase in the number of democratically elected governments world-wide has shaped a new world order. The role of think tanks on the Western model (or models) provided a ready alternative

The crisis in confidence in governments worldwide. As a result of this stark crisis in governments throughout the world, many policy makers have turned to think tanks to provide them with the substance and credibility they need

The proliferation of think tanks has also been distinguished by the diversification among think tanks caused by the need to survive in the global marketplace for ideas. Another marked feature of think tanks has been the internationalisation of think tank staff. [author]

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