Do Think Tanks Matter?: Assessing the Impact of Public Policy Institutes

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2009 - Business & Economics - 272 pages
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It is often assumed that think tanks carry enormous weight with lawmakers. In Do Think Tanks Matter? Donald Abelson argues that the basic question of how think tanks have evolved and under what conditions they can and do have an effect is consistently ignored. Think tank directors often credit their institutes with influencing major policy debates and government legislation and many journalists and scholars believe the explosion of think tanks in the latter part of the twentieth century indicates their growing importance in the policy-making process. Abelson goes beyond assumptions, identifying the influence and relevance of public policy institutes in today's political arena in the United States, where they've become an integral feature of the political landscape, and in Canada, where, despite recent growth in numbers, they enjoy less prominence than their US counterparts. By focusing on the policy cycle, issue articulation, policy formation, and implementation, Abelson argues that individual think tanks have sometimes played an important role in shaping the political dialogue and the policy preferences and choices of decision-makers but often in different ways and at different stages of the policy cycle. This revised and updated edition of the book includes up-to-date data (2000-08) on the growing visibility and policy relevance of think tanks in Canada and the United States.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Surveying the Think Tank Landscape in the United States
17
A Conceptual Framework
49
Opportunities Constraints and Incentives for Think
61
The Strategies of Think
77
Assessing the Influence
92
Presidential Candidates and
127
Policy Experts or Policy Instruments? Think Tanks and the Debate
150
References to Selected American Think Tanks on American Television
204
References to Selected American Think Tanks in National Magazines
217
Media Citations for Selected Canadian Think Tanks
227
Media Citations for Selected Canadian Think Tanks radio television
228
Newspaper Citations for Selected Canadian Think Tanks
242
Comparison of Annual Budget to Number of References in
258
References to Selected Think Tanks in Parliamentary
263
Notes
279

The More Things Change Policy Influence Policy
168
A Profile of Selected American Think Tanks
181
A Profile of Selected Canadian Think Tanks
191
Tanks 19982008
201
Bibliography
307
191
341
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Donald E. Abelson, professor and chair, Department of Political Science, and director, Centre for American Studies, The University of Western Ontario, is the author of A Capitol Idea: Think Tanks and U.S. Foreign Policy.

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