Most think tanks consciously seek to influence what powerful institutions do. A few years ago, a prominent American politician left Congress to lead a large think tank because, he explained, working for that think tank would give him greater power to influence US politics and policy. However, many other think tanks struggle to influence public debates and institutional actions for a very broad variety of reasons. In a context in which donors are demanding to see ‘impact’ and a growing number of competing groups (from lobbyists to campaigning charities) aggressively push their own policy prescriptions, think tanks need to learn to effectively advocate in order to survive.
Think tankers from a broad variety of backgrounds – research, communications, proposal development, grants management – can benefit from this course if they bring along a passion for using research to influence people, politics and policies.
The background note produced for this course explores these issues further and gives readers access to further resources.
Selected articles and resources:
- Bruckner, T. (2018) How political culture shapes think tanks: Advocacy tanks in D.C. versus networking tanks in Brussels. On Think Tanks
- Bruckner, T. (2017) Rating and ranking institutions to drive change: A ten-step guide for think tanks and advocacy groups. On Think Tanks
- Selection of organisational advocacy tools
- Bruckner, T. (2017) 7 lessons on policy advocacy from the Adam Smith Institute. Think Tank Review