Advocacy and analysis

Think tanks do two main things: analysis and advocacy. Some think tanks over-emphasise advocacy – which means analysis suffers.

Policy analysis is the art (it doesn’t, or shouldn’t, claim to be a science) of identifying possible solutions to problems. The most vocal think tanks often appear as if they’re more concerned with identifying new problems to which they can apply pre-existing solutions.

If you already know what the ‘answer’ is, it’s not research. It’s also not the answer to better social policy.

Social problems are complex. Why do some think tanks seem to suggest the solutions are easy? If we’re going to develop more informed social policy then we need more critical policy analysis. And one way to do this could be to open up research and policy to a far greater array of perspectives, particularly those on the frontline of public services. At least, that’s what we believe.


One Comment on “Advocacy and analysis”

  1. Gerard Darby says:

    I am not so sure that Think Tanks do the ‘advocacy’ part of their work that well either. It seems quite rare that the research from a Think Tank captures the public’s attention let alone their imagination or ignites a debate which engages the public’s participation. If people involved in the delivery of front line services are to be involved in policy and research then Think Tanks need to get significantly better at communicating their work and should do this in a way that engages rather than alienates the public.

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