Who Is Who in Thinktankistan?

Who cares about think tanks? More people than we expected! So many, in fact, that we have drawn up a list of organizations involved in researching, investigating, strengthening, monitoring, representing, rating, blogging and commenting on think tanks.

At least six blogs/sites are exclusively devoted to think tanks:

In case that makes you think that there can be nothing new under the think tank sun, visit the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project, which strives to provide a kind of quality review process for think tank publications, or Muckety, which uses maps to locate selected think tanks within larger webs of political and economic influence.

Also of interest are the Philanthropy Roundtable and its ACR project, who both argue against greater transparency in think tank funding.

One thing that really struck us in compiling our little ‘Who is Who’ is the extent to which US organizations traditionally focusing on lobbying and campaign finance have now begun monitoring think tanks. It may come as a surprise to most think tank professionals how often their sector is discussed in the same breath as “deceptive PR”, “front groups”, and even “institutional corruption”.

Our recently published bibliography on think tank transparency illustrates some of the issues involved. Over the coming weeks this blog will explore the darker sides of hidden think tank funding, as well as illuminate some brighter aspects of transparency.

What do you think? What lines divide think tanks from lobbyists or partisan political campaigners? And how should regulators deal with think tanks that cross these lines? Contact us if you want to submit a guest blog, or post a comment below.

(Again, for your convenience, our Who is Who is here.)