How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies

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9780812246018: How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies

Across the globe, there are more than four thousand policy institutes, or think tanks, that research or advocate for economic and social development. Yet the relationship between these organizations and the policies they influence is not well understood. How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies examines case studies drawn from a range of political and economic systems worldwide to provide a detailed understanding of how think tanks can have an impact on issues such as education policy, infrastructure, environment and sustainable development, economic reform, poverty alleviation, agricultural and land development, and social policy.

Each chapter provides an overview of the approaches and organizational structures of specific think tanks, as well as the political, economic, and social opportunities and the challenges of the environments in which they operate. The contributors study the stages of innovative think-tank-aided strategies implemented in highly industrialized world powers like the United States and Russia, emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil, and South Korea, and developing nations that include Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Accompanied by an extensive introduction to contextualize the history and theory of policy institutes, this comprehensive comparison of policy success stories will be instructive and transferable to other think tanks around the globe.

Contributors: Assefa Admassie, Celso Castro, Kristina Costa, Francisco Cravioto, Marek Dabrowski, Matt Dann, He Fan, Rajeev Gowda, Oh-Seok Hyun, Christian Koch, Jitinder Kohli, R. Andreas Kraemer, Elena Lazarou, William Lyakurwa, Ashwin Mahesh, Florencia Mezzadra, Partha Mukhopadhyay, Mcebisi Ndletyana, Sridhar Pabbisetty, Miguel Pulido, Marco Aurelio Ruediger, María Belén Sánchez, Dmitri Trenin, Samuel Wangwe, Vanesa Weyrauch, Maria Monica Wihardja, Rebecca Winthrop, Wang Xiaoyi.

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About the Author:

James G. McGann is Assistant Director of the International Relations Program and Director of the Think Tank and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also author of several books, most recently Democratization and Market Reform in Developing and Transitional Countries: Think Tanks as Catalysts. Anna Viden is lecturer in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on U.S.-Saudi relations and U.S. Mideast policy in general. Jillian Rafferty was formerly editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania and currently works as Program Coordinator for the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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Preface

This book is an outgrowth of the research conducted by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the International Relations Program, University of Pennsylvania, on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world. The program maintains a database and network of over 6,600 think tanks in 152 countries. Often referred to as the "think tanks' think tank," TTCSP examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations. Over the last twenty-five years, the program has developed and led a series of global initiatives that have helped bridge the gap between knowledge and policy in critical areas such as international peace and security, globalization and governance, international economics, environmental issues, information and society, poverty alleviation, and health care and global health. These international collaborative efforts are designed to establish regional and international networks of policy institutes and communities that improve policymaking while strengthening democratic institutions and civil societies around the world.

The program works with leading scholars and practitioners from think tanks and universities in a variety of collaborative efforts. TTCSP produces the annual Global Go To Think Tank Index, which ranks the world's leading think tanks in a variety of categories. This is achieved with the help of a panel of over 1,900 peer institutions and experts from the print and electronic media, academia, public and private donor institutions, and governments around the world. TTCSP has strong relationships with leading think tanks around the world, and its annual Think Tank Index is used by academics, journalists, donors, and the public to locate and connect with the leading centers of public policy research around the world. The program's goal is to increase the profile and performance of think tanks and raise public awareness of the important role think tanks play in governments and civil societies around the globe.

Since its inception in 1989, TTCSP has focused on collecting data and conducting research on think tank trends and the role think tanks play as civil society actors in the policymaking process. In 2007, TTCSP developed and launched the global index of think tanks, which identifies and recognizes centers of excellence in all the major areas of public policy research and in every region of the world. To date, TTSCP has provided technical assistance and capacity building programs in eighty-one countries. The program is now working to create regional and global networks of think tanks in an effort to facilitate collaboration and the production of a modest yet achievable set of global public goods. Our goal is to create lasting institutional and state-level partnerships by engaging and mobilizing think tanks that have demonstrated their ability to produce high-quality policy research and shape popular and elite opinion and actions for public good.

The Think Tanks and Social Development Case Studies Project is an outgrowth of a conference of think tanks in the G20 countries cosponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program. The publication project is underwritten by a generous grant from the New Ventures Fund, which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

At its outset, the main objective for this G20 Think Tanks and Social Development Project was to engage think tanks, policymakers, and other stakeholders in a peer-to-peer dialogue, knowledge exchange, and capacity building endeavor focused on global development policies. Throughout its evolution, the project has embraced and sought to advance the objectives of global development by improving the awareness and capacity of think tanks in the G20 countries on issues related to agricultural development, water sanitation and hygiene, financial inclusion, and global access to technology. Our broader objective is to build partnerships across regions and sectors for the promotion of global development, especially among the countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

The culmination of the project was the production of a number of case studies that explore the role think tanks have played in shaping social development policies at the national, regional, and global levels. The focus on social development—rather than development more generally—was an intentional limitation, imposed in an effort to zero in on a set of policy priorities and research that typically are overshadowed by discussions of economic and sustainable development. The case studies, each produced by a leading scholar at a G20 think tank, fall in one of four broad thematic areas and demonstrate the think tank's impact on a policy associated with social development. The cases are crafted such that they might illustrate how the strategy and structure of the think tank contributed to its ability to affect a specific policy issue—thereby simultaneously bringing both the nature of successful think tanks and progress and social development policy to the forefront.

In the long run we hope the activities associated with this project will contribute to: (1) an improvement in the quality and quantity of resources for national and global development; (2) the promotion and support of the use of high-quality domestic policy research to create budgets and inform policies in developing countries; (3) the strengthening of the network of the policy, advocacy, and media communities working on resources for development; (4) the betterment of the quality and impact of global and domestic campaigns that can bring more and better resources to development; and (5) the building up of the policy and advocacy communities in areas related to agricultural development and water, sanitation and hygiene, financial inclusion, and global libraries.

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