Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are Prospect Magazine's Think Tank of the Year Awards Rigged?

Many of the top US think tanks were not on Prospect Magazine's Think Tank of the Year shortlist.  What about Brookings?  What about American Enterprise Institute (AEI)?  What about Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)?  What about Cato Institute?

Why didn't these think tank behemoths make the list?  And what exactly was the criteria?

According to Prospect Magazine, entrants to the awards were scored according to six criteria: coherent selection of topics of importance; innovative and plausible policy prescription; rigour of analysis; influence on politics; influence on media and wider impact; convening power.

Knowing this, let's examine who made the list this year.  The four US think tanks on the shortlist were:
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Institute for Women’s Policy Research
  • Inter-American Dialogue

Think Tank Watch passes no judgement on these think tanks, but it leaves us wondering about the so-called think tank "majors."  Is there bias toward the little think tanks?  [Of course, we are not referring to Carnegie, which is a sizable think tank.]

Prospect Magazine and its judges may have been thinking the same thing, and in an article outlining the results, there was an explanation about some of the major think tanks that Think Tank Watch has mentioned.  Here is what they say:
The Brookings Institution, although not on the shortlist, was cited this year for its especially strong work on the Syria crisis and was described by one judge as “huge, but nimble.” The American Enterprise Institute was also noted for its significance, especially in its attempts to fashion a more moderate policy offering for the Republican Party, while the Centre [sic] for American Progress drew plaudits for its work on the left of the US political spectrum.

Think Tank Watch also wonders if there are there enough judges and do those judges have enough knowledge about US think tanks...

 So, are these think tank awards biased?  Contact Think Tank Watch and let us know your thoughts.