China's 'New-Type' Private Think Tanks: Is 'New' Better?
By Joel Wuthnow & Dingding Chen
Journal of Chinese Political Science
July 20, 2020 —
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.
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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.