The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania launched its “2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report” in over 80 countries around the world on Jan. 27-28th. This year marks the ninth year that TTCSP released this annual report on think tank research. The report seeks is to gain a better understanding of the role think tanks play in governments and civil societies. It does so by establishing a rigorous objective and fair evaluation system to track and rank global think tanks, as well as help them enhance their quality, capacity and performance.
James G. McGann, TTCSP Director
He Yuping, WCC Deputy Director
Wang Huiyao, CCG President
In Beijing, the report was released on Jan. 27th at the Wharton China Center (WCC). TTCSP Director James G. McGann introduced the report in a video message to the audience, and WCC Executive Director Prof. Zhang Zhong also conveyed his congratulations through video.
The event was hosted by WCC Deputy Director He Yuping. Following the release of the report and ranking lists, a seminar was held to invite the participating scholars, government officials, business executives, and media reporters to discuss why think tanks matter to policymakers and the public. It began with a presentation by CCG President Dr. Wang Huiyao about think tank innovation and development and was then divided into two sessions that looked into the influence of think tanks on China’s policies and public opinion, respectively. The participants included:
. Liu Ying,Director, Department of Cooperation and Research, Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China
. Zhang Liping, Deputy Director, First Division, State Councilor’s Office
.Wei Jianing, Inspector and Research Fellow, Department of Macroeconomic Study, Development Research Center of the State Council
.Zhu Xufeng, Professor, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University
.Ke Yinbin, Secretary General, Charhar Institute
.Zou Ming, Editor Chief, ifeng.com
.Qu Yilin, Chief Editor, theory page, Guangming Daily
. Lu Qi, Ph. D, China Institute for Reform and Development Beijing Office
The seminar agreed that China’s think tanks have entered into a new era of development with government support. More than ever, policy proposals from high-quality think tanks are needed as China is undergoing a great transformation. The participants noted that the maturity of Chinese think tanks is crucial to the formulation of sound national policies and establishment of the country’s international influence. These think tanks must enhance innovation and cooperation to become more internationally competitive.
This program marks the ninth annual event organized by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania to acknowledge the important contributions of think tanks worldwide. Our initial effort to produce a global ranking of the world’s leading think tanks in 2006 was in response to a series of requests from donors, government officials, journalists, and scholars who wanted the TTCSP to identify the world’s leading think tanks. Since its inception, our objective for the Global Go To Think Tank Index report have been to gain a better understanding of the role think tanks play in governments and civil societies. Using this knowledge, we hope to help enhance the quality, capacity and performance of think tanks around the world.
According to the report, a total of 6,846 think tanks were operating around the world in 2015. The top three continents with respect to home to think tanks are North America (1,931), Europe (1,770) and Asia (1,262). The United States still has the largest number of think tanks at 1,835, followed by China (435), UK (288), and India (280).
Every year, TTCSP conducted extensive research and study on think tanks to insure the quality of the ranking lists and representativeness of the indicators. Since 2010, almost 100 experts have participated in the nomination, evaluation and ranking process. To minimize the margin of error, TTCSP have modified and improved the indicators a number of times over the past five years. In 2015, a total of 4,677 journalists, policy makers, think tanks, and public and private donors from 143 countries participated in the ranking process.
The evaluation and ranking process take three steps:
1. Round I - Think Tank Nominations: a call for nominations was sent to 6,500 plus think tanks and 7,500 plus journalists, public and private donors, and policy-makers from around the world.
2. Round II - Think Tank Ranking: Think tanks with 10 or more nominations were placed in an electronic ranking survey. A letter announcing the second round was emailed to all the think tanks, journalists, public and private donors, and policy maker groups who have agreed to participate in the process. The rankings were tabulated and the list of finalists is generated for the Expert Panel to review and make final selections.
3. Round III -Expert Panel Review: The members of the Expert Panel received information packets by email in order to facilitate the final selection process and were asked submit their final rankings and recommendations.
The criterion used in the 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index includes the quality and commitment of the think tank’s leadership; qauality and reputation of the think tank’s staff and research and analysis, ability to recruit and retain elite scholars and analysts, academic performance and reputation, and reputation with policymakers.
2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report does not use study outcomes as the single criteria to evaluate think tanks’ influence, but also looks at their
. Resource indicators (such as ability to recruit and retain leading scholars and analysts; the level, quality, and stability of financial support);
. Utilization indicators (such as reputation as a “go-to” organization by media and policy elites in the country);
.Output indicators (number and quality of policy proposals and ideas generated);
.Impact indicators (recommendations considered or adopted by policymakers and civil society organizations).
1. Outstanding Performance of Chinese Think Tanks
Based on their regional location, research fields, and special achievements, global think tanks were ranked into 52 lists, up from 49 last year. Among these think tanks, Chinese think tanks can be found on 28 lists. Six of them are ranked on the list of top 100 think tanks worldwide, and 18 on the list of top Asian think tanks covering China, India, Japan and South Korea. They are also seen on the list of top think tanks for education, environmental, and national security policies. In addition, many newly-emerging independent think tanks in China have attracted international attention. Six of them make the cut to be on the list of top 50 independent think tanks.
2. TopThink Tanks Worldwide
Among all the ranked 175 think tanks around the world, the Brookings Institute from the United States remains No. 1. This is the consecutive fourth year that it has claimed that crown. Chatham House (UK) and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (USA) also remained No.2 and No. 3, respectively. Nine Chinese think tanks are also among the top 175.