Thursday, January 13, 2022

Fun Think Tank Facts from "Global Political Cities"

Johns Hopkins University Professor Kent Calder has a new book called Global Political Cities which has a number of fun facts on think tanks. 

Here is an excerpt on one of the relatively smaller Washington think tanks:

Even the relatively modest Center for Global Development (CGD), with a staff of fewer than 100 and a 2018 budget of less than $20 million, has exerted broad influence on the international policy agenda and figures in the international rankings.  Five concrete recent cases in which the center has exercised concrete influence over global policy agendas outside Washington are illustrative.

  1. The Commitment to Development Index: Developed by CGD Europe and disseminated through Washington, this index has become a development performance metric for such countries as Finland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. 
  2. The Center for Global Development's universal health coverage initiative: The center's recent publication, What's In, What's Out: Designing Benefits for Universal Health Coverage, is now a resource for policymakers designing universal health coverage initiatives in India, Kenya, and South Africa. 
  3. Development impact bonds: Designed in a 2013 CGD report, this concept was implemented in 2014 in Rajasthan, India. 
  4. Pre-sponsoring forthcoming vaccines: Endorsed by the G7 finance ministers in 2009, this appraoch evolved into a $1.5 billion pilot program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and implememented in five nations. 
  5. Women in UN peacekeeping: CGD's campaign in this area led Canada to announce a C$15 million fund to support the development of female peacekeepers.

Here in an excerpt on the difference between think tanks in Washington and Beijing:

Perhaps the most striking Beijing-Washington difference is the character and role of think tanks.  Washington's think tanks are large, affluent, interactive with one another, often competitive, and increasingly transnational in their scope of operations.  They have converted the capital into a global political arena.  Beijing's think tanks, by contrast, are much smaller, more heavily regulated, and stove-piped, with limited horizontal communications with one another.  Rather than market conforming or transnational, they are developmentalist and parochial in character, although there are exceptions.  The most important differences in the agenda-setting capabilities of Washington and Beijing in international affairs lie in the think-tank structure and function.  American's capital city clearly gathers and processes strategic information more efficiently and transparently, China's rapidly rising national economic influence notwithstanding.

CICIR, CASS, and CIIS constitute Beijing's "big three" think tanks, the book goes on to note.

The book, published by the Brookings Institution Press, has a number of other think tank facts.