“The Think Tank is Dead.” So predicted Michael Tanji a half-decade ago.
Tanji argued that “virtual think tanks,” groups of experts tethered only by common interests and cyber-communications, offered advantages (as well as some disadvantages) over traditional think tanks moored in brick-and-mortar buildings. The next iteration of think tanks—dubbed, inevitably, Think Tank 2.0—would be a mash-up of both cyber and cubicled assemblies of brains.
That, at least, was Tanji’s vision of the future. Yet his virtual tank, the Center for Threat Awareness, stopped publishing less than a year later. As for the brick-and-mortar dinosaurs, they’re still going strong.
That’s not to say that traditional think tanks won’t change. They will. Increasingly, these institutes of research and education will develop sister organizations to apply the legislative expertise and political pressure needed to transform their policy recommendations into enacted law.
Put plainly, the future is bright for brick-and-mortar think tanks—particularly those working on foreign and national security policy. When done right, the independent, nonpartisan think tank can have a strong competitive advantage in the war of ideas.
Much more can be read here. Mr. Carafano is Vice President at the Heritage Foundation, where he directs research at the think tank's Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy.