Monday, December 23, 2013

Think Tankers on Think Tanks

Last month, Think Tank Watch reported about a Wilson Center event on Wilson Center scholar Andrew Selee's new book entitled "What Should Think Tanks Do?"

Here are some of Think Tank Watch's favorite quotes from that event:

Andrew Selee: Vice President for Programs and Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute, Wilson Center:
  • "Brookings could easily coast on its reputation, but doesn't."
  • "The more strategic think tanks are the more impact they have."
  • "Resources are probably the main thing that think tanks spend the most time worrying about."

Anne-Marie Slaughter: President and CEO, New America Foundation (NAF):
  • "Only in Washington is 'What Should Think Tanks Do?' considered an airplane book."
  • "Think tanks play a critical translation role between academia and government."
  • "Think tanks really know how to get ideas implanted into the policy process."
  • "New America Foundation (NAF) is like a tech-lab, we have 40 coders looks like Silicon Valley."
  • "NAF is not diverse enough (in terms of race) is an issue we'll be focusing on."

James McGann: Director, Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania:
  • "Think tanks as a human resource function for government is becoming a global phenomenon."
  • "The 9/11 Commission was populated by think tankers."
  • "Most countries do not rely on think tanks as much as the US does."
  • "Think tanks have to be market-oriented."
  • "Thinks tanks generally have a greater gender diversity than racial diversity."
  • "Think tanks are a risky business.  They can only survive one or two bad leaders and then they tank."

Steven Bennett: Vice President and COO, Brookings Institution:
  • "Brookings must remain on the cutting edge, even if it 100 years old."
  • "Brookings has tried to be as nimble and dynamic as a small think tank."
  • "Think tanks feed government important analysis."
  • "Brookings has branched out beyond the federal government and Washington, we've stepped into the state and local realm."
  • "Think tanks have to be in the business of re-invention."
  • "To be a nimble think tanks it helps to have unrestricted capital."
  • "On diversity Brookings needs to do a better job...we are lousy on racial diversity."
  • "Brookings is now investing a lot in communications."
  • "Funding is very time-consuming."
  • "If you ask a Republican what our political affiliation is they will say Brookings is liberal; if you ask a Democrat, they will say that we are middle-of-the-road."

Lawrence McDonald: Vice President for Communications and Policy Outreach, Center for Global Development (CGD):
  • "CGD has been successful because our leader is a women." 
  • "At CGD [our staffers] skew female and skew young."
  • "There is a big problem with partisanship at many think tanks."
  • "At CGD we have two vice presidents who support different political parties."
  • "CGD has too many people from the World Bank, including me."
You can watch the full Wilson Center event here.