This paper offers a model for understanding the strategies that think tanks use to influence policy-making. The model combines the concepts of policy environments (McGann and Weaver, 2000) and knowledge regimes (Campbell and Pedersen, 2011) and argues that think tank strategies reflect changes in opportunity structures that are mediated by historically constituted institutions in knowledge regimes. The paper distinguishes between four different strategies, the authoritative, the collaborative, the agenda-setting and the competitive strategy that are distinguished by the relations think tanks have to established institutions and power in public policy. On the basis of the hypothesis that more competitive think tanks have emerged due to lower opportunity costs, the paper investigates how ‘competitive’ think tank strategies have been used in Germany, Denmark, the EU-institutions in Brussels and in the United Kingdom from 2000 to 2012. The findings contradict the hypothesis that the competitive think tank strategy is the dominant or even a common strategy across the cases under investigation. The competitive strategy is particularly rare among EU and German think tanks. As such the paper challenges the view that changing policy environments results in convergence of think tank strategies across Europe. As a perspective the paper shows that competitive think tanks do have a high average impact pr. staff on both mass and new media compared to other types of think tanks. This may indicate that competitive strategies will become more common in the future.
Think tanks; public policy
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8th International Conference in Intrepretive Policy Analysis, 2013