Arnold Kling  

Thinking about Think Tanks

Inequality and Status... Scott Sumner on The Great Stag...

Tevi Troy writes,

If donors see and use think tanks as pawns in a political war, the value of their product will be diminished in the eyes of the public, journalists and senior government officials.

He made this point in our interview two months ago, but the Cato-Koch kerfluffle has made it more salient.

Charles Murray does not think that the Kochs have put enough into Cato to deserve the level of control they are asking. As I wrote in my first post on this topic, I would think that other donors would want to have a more representative board. What's wrong with this picture, in my view, is that the dispute being played out in public is between Kochs and [some] Cato staff, rather than between the Kochs and other donors.

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COMMENTS (2 to date)
Mark Brady writes:

Okay, but they're not think tanks, they're public policy institutes.

Steve Crowley writes:

What is the difference between a think tank and a public policy institute? Or a public interest group? Or a lobbying boutique? They're all thinking.

I ... uh ... think there's an analogy to commercially-sponsored technology policy advocacy groups. After a while, people know who is sponsoring the views, and take the views with more than one grain of salt.

Any thinking group is unlikely to stray from the views of its sponsor.

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