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.
Jesper Dahl Kelstrup
Think tanks, which concern themselves with EU affairs, have developed in tandem with European integration over three ‘waves’. An interpretive approach is applied to reconstruct the self-perception and intentions of some of those active in think tanks in the EU. Although notions of value-free policy analysis and advice, a trademark of technocratic reasoning, feature prominently among EU think tanks, the chapter reveals different understandings of the ways in which public knowledge should be legitimated in the EU. The most recent wave of think tanks has contributed towards opening up the ways in which knowledge can be made authoritative in the EU, for example, by interacting directly with citizens in the member states or by calling into question Brussels as the geopolitical center of the EU.