Think tanks (sometimes spelled think-tanks) are nonprofit organizations that conduct research aimed at providing policy advice and analysis to policymakers.

What is a think tank?

In general, there is great diversity in the think tank ecosystem and experts often note that there is no such thing as a prototypical think tank: these organizations differ among one another across a number of important dimensions, such as "in how they are funded, the roles that they play, their attitudes toward 'neutral expertise', their recruitment of staff, and their 'product lines.'" (Rich & Weaver 2012) Moreover, the boundaries between think tanks and other types of entities with a mandate to supply policy advice, such as pressure groups, private foundations, academic institutes, policy schools, government agencies, and non-government organizations are sometimes blurry.

A stylized distinction may be drawn between "advocacy" and "research" think tanks, depending on whether the primary goal is to provide "ammunition" or "enlightenment" (Rich & Weaver 2012), although these are probably best regarded as two limit cases in opposite ends of a continuum. Advocacy think tanks (sometimes called "ideological tanks" or "think and do tanks") often self-identify with a specific political ideology and offer their services to clients in a relatively well-defined range of the political spectrum. Examples include the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (conservative), the Center for American Progress and the Economic Policy Institute (liberal), and Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation (libertarian)....

(Read More)