Current Projects


This project strives to compile the entire think tank universe into one accurate, well-researched, and up-to-date database. Seven regional teams updated the contact information for approximately 6,500 think tanks worldwide. Additionally, think tanks were surveyed for updated institutional profile information. Some of those who did not return surveys were profiled via internet research or their websites, when possible. This research lays the groundwork for the Global Go to Report. Furthermore, it is a vital reference for think tank networking.


The Global Go To Report strives to provide “an insider’s guide to the competitive marketplace for ideas that matter” (2008 Global Go To Report, 5). The Report uses expert peer nominations to rank the top think tanks in the world by both region and research area. Think tanks worldwide are solicited to nominate experts for the Panel. The Panel then nominates think tanks for the report, considering criteria including, but not limited to, funding, publications, influence on policymakers, and impact on the betterment of civilian life in their resident country. This Report is important for policymakers, peers, and donors because it highlights and allows them to see, quickly, the leading institutions around the world.


The Think Tanks, Public Policy, and Presidents team has been conducting research on how think tanks influence foreign and domestic policy.  To analyze the impact of think tanks and social science research, appointments to mid-level and high positions in the past three administrations were examined.  In addition, case studies were conducted on how policies mirror the advice given by ideologically similar think tanks.  During this research process, the revolving door effect was evident, warranting a section of this paper.  After finishing research, the Think Tanks, Public Policy, and Presidents team has also been responsible for preparing the manuscript for dissemination.  This includes editing and fact-checking the entire document.


The GTTPN team is responsible for identifying, mapping, and analyzing the phenomena of proliferation, expansion, and networking of public policy research institutions in order to provide a primer and road map for global public policy practitioners, participants, and the interested public. We began by identifying the forces driving these phenomena, addressing both historical and current factors. We followed with our “mapping” study in which we identified existing global think tanks, selected a representative group of global public policy networks, and conducted detailed profiling of identified global think tanks and global public policy networks. With our mapping analysis and a literature review as a foundation, we identified and critiqued the role of global think tanks and global public policy networks in civil society and analyzed the challenges and opportunities facing global think tanks and policy networks.  Furthermore, we have also embarked on an in-depth analysis of the trends and patterns that can be observed from our compiled institutional profiles.  Finally, we are producing recommendations for improved contributions by global think tanks and global public policy networks towards effective global public policy.


The Economic Policy and Global Economic Crisis Team is working to compile a comprehensive listing of economic thinks around the globe. They have developed a methodology as to how to define an economic think tank, studied the structural orientation and areas of study to determine regional and global trends and to point to areas where further research could be potentially fruitful. Additionally, the team is currently working on case studies to demonstrate how some of the most influential global economic think tanks are adjusting to the current financial crisis with an emphasis on identifying the causes and possibly policy remedies going forward.


This project consisted of updating and expanding an on-going study of American and European think tanks, with special focus on those of the European Union.  A report was compiled for which there is keen interest, including the European Commission.  The report chronicles some of the major trends and challenges facing think tanks in Europe. It provides some background on the development of think tanks in Europe and the United States.  It then focuses on the state of think tanks in Europe and explores how the rise of the European Union is altering national and regional responses to major policy challenges facing the region. The research was informed by our on-going study on think tanks and policy advice around the world and the data collection and profiling of all the major think tanks in Europe. As outside observers we hope that our research and analysis provides some useful insights and serves as a catalyst for those issues requiring attention and from which European think tanks can benefit.


The main objective of the team has been to prepare a report that provides an overview of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and the Gulf Region, and provides an assessment of the state of policy advice and recommends partnership between US and GCC think tanks and policymakers. Apart from profiling and doing a detailed analysis of all the think tanks in the MENA region with a special focus on the Gulf, the team also provided a short synopsis of each gulf program. Furthermore, the team researched many global and regional policy programs and recommended these as possible partnership models to consider for the GCC. The team also wrote literature reviews of the Gulf Cooperation Council and its role in the region, and on the role of think tanks and policy advice in MENA and Gulf region that further build on the team’s knowledge of civil societies and policy advice in MENA.


The Mining for Gold project involves identifying innovative policy ideas and proposals for regional and state governments in the areas of economic, social programming, education, and heath. After developing a set of criteria to define “innovative”, the team has been working to identify and profile think tanks around the world that have come up with such innovative ideas or programs and also those that work towards identifying, compiling and disseminating innovative best practices at the community or state level. The team has also been identifying programs and foundations that run competitions that highlight and reward innovative policies or programs. The Mining for Gold team is also developing literature reviews on Policy innovation at the federal, state and local level, Devolution of programs and services to state and local governments, Improving the quality and delivery of services provided by local governments, and Comparative domestic policy.


The African research project is an empirically-based comprehensive study on the state of African based thinks. The study takes a holistic approach with three distinct components. i. Assessing think tanks within the spectrum of four key policy areas; health, governance, security and international affairs, and socio-economics. ii. Analyzing these issues in relation to the domestic challenges of African countries. iii. Compiling the data within the framework of global think tanks trends.


The environment, energy and development group is working towards the expansion of the existing environment database. First by identifying new or additional thinks tanks from the 2009 global think tank database whose mission, vision and goals primarily addresses the environment and environmental issues; second by identifying global think tanks who have existing research programs or centers working on various environmental issues such as climate change, urban and rural interface, biodiversity, natural resources and pollution to name a few; and third by identifying think tanks who have worked or are currently working on an environmental project. Aside from the expansion of the environment database, the group has also developed a global energy think tank database where in all think tanks that specializes in the field of energy were identified following the same criteria used for the environment database. To further expand and understand global environment/energy think tanks, the group is also working on an on-line survey that can be sent exclusively to environmental and energy think tanks. To reach the most number of audience, the on-line survey is in three languages: English, Spanish and Chinese. The group is also in the process of identifying global environmental/energy networks who can help disseminate the survey to their members. At the same time, the environment, energy and development group is also working on a comparative study of North American and European think tanks versus consulting firms and advocacy groups to determine whether or not the proliferation of consulting firms and advocacy groups have impacted the development of new environmental/energy think tanks in North America and in Europe. The comparative analysis not only looks at funding sources but also the relation of key environmental events in the development of think tanks.


The Security and International Affairs has analyzed think tanks that are researching topics traditionally defined as security and international affairs related and regional studies as well as think tanks that are addressing emerging issues in the field, including economics, the environment, globalization, and development. The team has assessed European security and international affairs concerns and produced a report that predicts what European policy will likely prioritize in this field. The team has used this information to contrast European concerns with U.S. concerns referencing a report on American security and international affairs think tanks and their priorities. The variance and similarities in priorities of SIA think tanks in these two regions allow us to assess the future of the field and how it may diverge in the U.S. and in Europe.

Additionally, the team is working to assess security and international affairs think tanks on a global scale by finding SIA think tanks in each of the world’s region and analyzing and comparing key trends.

Finally, the team is producing a literature review on SIA issues and what policymakers believe the future of the field will be while comparing their recommendations to think tanks’ priorities. A grants and funding report analyzing where and which topics are receiving funding from donors and governments will also be used to analyze whether key topics for the future are of interest to donors and how that impacts think tank research.


The India project, officially titled, Indian Think Tanks: Powerhouses of Policy or Political Pawns, seeks to fully understand the role of think tanks in Indian civil society and policymaking. To accomplish this goal, the project seeks to develop a comprehensive database of all Indian think tanks in order to analyze important trends. Such a comprehensive database gives insight into areas of research think tanks study, and allows us to identify critically understudied areas of research and which regions of India lack think tank advice. Relying primarily on internet research, the India database provides valuable data on important topics such as structural orientation and funding among others. Data such as this provides the study with critical information in determining the role of think tanks in influencing policymakers. Returns of think tank surveys have allowed the study to gain deeper insight into the target audience of Indian think tanks. Extensive research into the literature on a wide range of topics related to Indian civil society supplements internet research and survey returns in order to provide the first comprehensive analysis of policy advice in India.


This project compares the growth of international non-governmental organizations to think tanks over the past century. It also involves a breakdown of NGOs vs. think tank prevalence by region, and a case study of NGOs in Africa and Western Europe. Finally, it describes the challenges facing NGOs today, such as accountability, efficiency, and the global economic crisis.


The main goal of this environmental research project is to establish an in-depth understanding and structural knowledge of environmental think tanks in Germany, Belgium, and France. The initial research is not comparative in nature, but is instead aimed at creating countrywide profiles of green oriented research organizations. In these profiles, it is important to evaluate which think tanks are environmentally focused, which have specific environmental sectors of research, and which merely support select environmental projects.  This information will then be profiled and complied into a comprehensive word document for reference purposes.

Following the initial research and profiling stage, the project focuses on the nature and characteristic patterns of environmental think tanks in Germany, Belgium, and France.  Several areas that will be assessed are research strategy, resources, government interaction, public responsibility, level of innovation, and potential for influence.  In addition, the think tanks in Germany, Belgium, and France will be assessed on a comparative basis, identifying common threads and unique differences between individual institutions and countries.  In conclusion, the research project will identify the areas of peak concern and future outlooks of environmental think tanks in Germany, Belgium, and France.