Research Paper Example on Think Tanks: Advising Governments & Corporations for Improved Decision Making

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1667 Words
Date:  2023-09-17


Think tanks are political research institutions, and they are influential in political, social, and economic decisions in China and other countries of the world. In more definitions, think tanks can be an organization or group doing interdisciplinary research commercially or for a government (Fraussen & Halpin, 2016). The research matters as think tanks affect society and advise the government or corporate organizations to assist in their decision making or to create intra-organization values. Political leadership impacts the think tank organizational structure and function.

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There is a sharp growth of think tanks around the world recently; therefore, there is a need for research on them. The United States has more history of think tanks than Asian countries like China and Korea. Think tanks in China began cropping up in the 19th century, and the first ones in Asia were the Council on Foreign Relations and the Chatham House (Menegazzi, 2017). The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is arguably the best think tank in China but is the only one to emerge in the top 30 think tanks in the world, according to a recent survey (Gándara & Ness, 2019). It is, however, attributed to the vast history of think tanks in western countries that have evolved in influence, complexity, and structure. Also, think tanks in China are mostly sponsored by the government (Hayward, 2018). At the same time, those in western countries are primarily private and independent from government sponsorship, meaning that many people have established theirs. Think tanks in China vary in organizational structure and function mainly because of history and culture.

Research Questions

  • What is the organizational structure of think tanks?
  • What are the functions of think tanks?
  • What is the impact of political leadership on organization structure and functions of think tanks?
  • Research Objectives
  • The research shows the organizational structure of think tanks.
  • The study reveals the functions of think tanks in a country.
  • The research aims to shows the impact of political leadership on organizational structure and functions of think tanks.

Statement of Problem

Think tanks have their independent structure and function as organizations. However, political leadership influences the think tanks' structure and functions. The impact varies from country to county, majorly because of the culture and history of each. China hosts a few think tanks, and political leadership is a huge influence, even as they evolve in complexity and structure.

Literature Review

Think tanks are run by a board of directors and they have functional, legal, and symbolic functions and headed by an executive officer. Think tanks' duties vary on whether they are inclined to a political party or independent, and primary services include research, brainstorming ideas, and making coalitions. The impact of political leadership on think tanks in China is enormous because it is a one-party state.

The Organizational Structure of a Think Tank

Think tanks are organizations, and they have stable structures for governance and delivery. The backbone of the structure of think tanks is a board of Directors. It is vital to control the finances, innovation, and principles of the think tank. The board has two essential functions. They include managing the procurement of funds and organizing their values and goals (Kickbusch & Hanefeld, 2017). Think tanks are majorly non-profit organizations, but they are held like profit organizations. They are also responsible for ensuring that the think tank organization follows all the legal regulations in a country. The board is usually headed by an Executive director who controls all the employees of the think tank to ensure that they perform all their activities (Kinderman, 2016). The functions of the board can be categorized as symbolic, functional, or legal. Think tanks must follow the law, and the board is vigilant that the organization is accountable for its activities and that they remain within the rule of law. Unlike other organizations, think tanks get tax breaks; therefore, they have an advantage (Köllner et al., 2018). The functional roles of the board involve monitoring the performance of the organization and appointment of staff, and the symbolic part consists in ensuring that the organization maintains a positive public image (Lewis & Cushion, 2017).

Functions of a Think Tank

Think tanks vary as some incline themselves to a political party; therefore, their relevance depends on whether the political party has a say in governance (Lingard, 2015). Another type is that which is not dependent on a political party as they aim to focus on their ideologies and share them within the country or in the world. Think tanks are organizations that provide a platform for ideas and debate that is influential in bringing influence to societal issues of a nation (Rich, 2018). They focus on the top of details; therefore, they might discuss issues that the ordinary citizen is not even aware of. Their ideologies, therefore, are not directly essential to the public, as they are presented to businesses, legislators, and other politicians (Zimmerman, 2016). Think tanks, thus, may operate differently as some will work to push to change the manifesto of a political party while some work towards general political influence in a country. Think tanks are evolving as they combine their activities, campaigns, practices, and policies to influence the public as they are the primary stakeholders (Lubienski et al., 2015). Other general functions include creating coalitions, brainstorming ideas, and researching.

Impact of Political Leadership on Organization Structure and Functions of Think Tanks

China's think tanks are different from others, like in the United States and Korea. A high number of them are more connected to the government, and very few are independent. It means that political leadership in China has a significant influence on their organizational structure and functions (Menegazzi, 2017). The number of think tanks in China that are highly connected to the government is high because the country was under Marxist ideologies for a long time, until recently. The Communist Party is the only political party in China, meaning that it has unquestionable influence over the country's economic, social, and political decisions and think tanks are not an exception. Think tanks have less history in China; therefore, their sole political party has a massive influence on their structure and governance (Menegazzi, 2017). For example, the Chinese government does not allow individuals to hold membership in different think tanks, especially on the boards. It discourages any building up of power other than the sovereign party. It means that the Chinese government eliminates any chance of individuals or groups developing knowledge and information about power outside the ruling party (McCaffree, 2018). It shows that the research industry on politics in China is still premature as the government maintains most of the control.

Significance of the Study

It is vital to research on think tanks, as their influence on political and social issues. Think tanks do not deal directly with the public, but their power is vast. The research, therefore, is significant to reveal the impact of political leadership on think tanks, as more independent ones emerge.

Research Methodology

The research methodology in the study is a meta-analysis, a branch of qualitative analysis. The method is cost-effective as only one person is enough to do the research. It involves the analysis of peer-reviewed journals available in online and physical libraries to establish patterns and themes. Journals are useful as they are stable because information on them hardly changes.


Fraussen, B., & Halpin, D. (2016). Think tanks and strategic policy-making: The contribution of think tanks to policy advisory systems. Policy Sciences, 50(1), 105-124.

Gándara, D., & Ness, E. C. (2019). Ideological think tanks and the politics of college affordability in the states. The Journal of Higher Education, 90(5), 717-743.

Hayward, J. (2018). The power of ideas: The rising influence of thinkers and think tanks in China Cheng Li Singapore: World scientific publishing, 2017 xvi + 354 pp. £42.00 ISBN 978-981-3232-18-1. The China Quarterly, 235, 881-882.

Kickbusch, I., & Hanefeld, J. (2017). Role for academic institutions and think tanks in speeding progress on sustainable development goals. BMJ, j3519.

Kinderman, D. (2016). Challenging varieties of capitalism’s account of business interests: Neoliberal think-tanks, discourse as a power resource and employers’ quest for liberalization in Germany and Sweden. Socio-Economic Review, mww040.

Köllner, P., Zhu, X., & Abb, P. (2018). Understanding the development of think tanks in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan. Pacific Affairs, 91(1), 5-26.

Lewis, J., & Cushion, S. (2017). Think tanks, television news and impartiality. Journalism Studies, 20(4), 480-499.

Lingard, B. (2015). Think tanks, ‘policy experts’ and ‘ideas for’ education policy making in Australia. The Australian Educational Researcher, 43(1), 15-33.

Lubienski, C., Brewer, T. J., & La Londe, P. G. (2015). Orchestrating policy ideas: Philanthropies and think tanks in US education policy advocacy networks. The Australian Educational Researcher, 43(1), 55-73.

McCaffree, K. (2018). The growth of Chinese think tanks and the question of crime. East Asia, 35(1), 43-58.

McGann, J. G. (2018). Think tank presidents’ statements. Think Tanks and Emerging Power Policy Networks, 59-107.

Menegazzi, S. (2017). Think tanks in China. Rethinking Think Tanks in Contemporary China, 59-106.

Menegazzi, S. (2017). Conclusions: Rethinking think tanks in contemporary China. Rethinking Think Tanks in Contemporary China, 157-172.

Rich, A. (2018). Think tanks and policy analysis. Policy Analysis in the United States.

Zimmerman, E. (2016). Think tanks and non-traditional security. Think Tanks and Non-Traditional Security, 41-67.

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Research Paper Example on Think Tanks: Advising Governments & Corporations for Improved Decision Making. (2023, Sep 17). Retrieved from

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