Re-Thinking Think Tanks: Differentiating Knowledge-Based Policy Influence Organizations

Paper by Adam Wellstead and Michael P. Howlett: “The idea of “think tanks” is one of the oldest in the policy sciences. While the topic has been studied for decades, however, recent work dealing with advocacy groups, policy and Behavioural Insight labs, and into the activities of think tanks themselves have led to discontent with the definitions used in the field, and especially with the way the term may obfuscate rather than clarify important distinctions between different kinds of knowledge-based policy influence organizations (KBPIO). In this paper, we examine the traditional and current definitions of think tanks utilized in the discipline and point out their weaknesses. We then develop a new framework to better capture the variation in such organizations which operate in many sectors….(More)”.