Handbook on Think Tanks in Public Policy
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Handbook on Think Tanks in Public Policy

Edited by Donald E. Abelson and Christopher J. Rastrick

This important Handbook is a comprehensive guide to the role, function and perceived impact of policy research-oriented institutions in North America, Europe and beyond. Over 20 international scholars explore the diverse and eclectic world of think tanks to reveal their structure, governance and unique position in occupying a critical space on the public-policy landscape.
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Chapter 3: Methodological challenges and advances in studying think tanks

Jesper Dahl Kelstrup


The chapter argues that uncertainty over both the definition and influence of think tanks has resulted in a literature with different and incompatible views on think tanks and their influence. Nevertheless, knowledge of think tanks has been advanced. At the national level studies have nuanced our understanding of think tanks by showing their historical roles and their interaction with other organizations such as the media and political parties. Comparatively, studies have looked at differences in institutional context drawing on a wide array of data to show how their roles vary and compare across countries and levels of government. Overall the literature on think tanks is rich on contextual knowledge but remains divided on how to interpret think tank power in and across political systems.

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