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 22: Trump and the foreign policy elite think tank networks

Naná de Graaff and Bastiaan van Apeldoorn


As established by long-standing literature, America’s foreign policymaking elite has, in the past decades, been closely interconnected to foreign policy think tanks and corporate elite networks. This chapter analyzes to what extent Donald Trump’s presidency represents a break with these extant power structures in the American political system and its foreign policy establishment. It presents a systematic mapping and social network analysis of Trump and his Cabinet and White House advisors (based on a novel biographical data set) and compares the findings with earlier research on the elite networks of the post-Cold War Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. Whilst finding some strong continuities, the Trumpian foreign policy elite is shown to indeed display some very distinct characteristics, particularly with regard to the different kind of corporate elite ties and the disconnect with the policy-planning networks that have been so central to previous administrations.

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