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China's 'New-Type' Private Think Tanks: Is 'New' Better?

By Joel Wuthnow & Dingding Chen Journal of Chinese Political Science

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The Type 001A aircraft carrier, launched on April 26, 2017 in Dalian, China, is an improved variant of the Soviet designed Kuznetsov class.
The Type 001A aircraft carrier, launched on April 26, 2017 in Dalian, China, is an improved variant of the Soviet designed Kuznetsov class.
The Type 001A aircraft carrier, launched on April 26, 2017 in Dalian, China, is an improved variant of the Soviet designed Kuznetsov class.
The Type 001A aircraft carrier, launched on April 26, 2017 in Dalian, China, is an improved variant of the Soviet designed Kuznetsov class.
The Type 001A aircraft carrier, launched on April 26, 2017 in Dalian, China, is an improved variant of the Soviet designed Kuznetsov class.
Photo By: China Aerospace Studies Institute
VIRIN: 200608-F-YT915-003

China’s public policy research community has long been dominated by large state-run research institutes, but in recent years financially and bureaucratically independent think tanks have played a more prominent role. While private think tanks have used a variety of strategies to secure funding and access to officials, a major constraint is the continuing influence of their state-run counterparts. What are the conditions under which private institutes can prosper in this environment, both in terms of providing meaningful advice and developing prestigious brands? This essay theorizes that these goals can be achieved under three conditions: when human capital is leveraged to provide new advice, when networks are deployed to build bridges between scholarly communities, and when effective use of information technology supports the dissemination of research outputs. An organization’s ability to meet those criteria depends both on resource endowments and on willingness to buck the conventional wisdom.

Read the rest in the Journal of Chinese Political Science - 

Dr. Joel Wuthnow is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at National Defense University.