Think Tank

A think tank could be an institute, an agency, or an organized group with a purpose to promote disciplinary research. The objective is to encourage discovery and facilitate intellectual interaction and communications among experts and scientists (Goodman, 2005). Generally, a think tank entity is distinct from government and nonprofit organizations; however, it may belong to semi agencies related to a government or a political entity. The funding often relies on individual contributions, donations from private or government grants (Weaver, 2017).

Photo Credit: Mladiinfo

According to Pop (2012), the term itself lacks an exact definition and is recognized differently through organizations that vary in size, structure, political, and legal forms. The entities can be classified into different categories and may apply other methods due to the variations in theories and the concept of the research problem (Jin, Zhang, & Zhang, 2017). In decision-making consultation, the think tank research may apply a qualitative or quantitative analysis method. In contrast, other methods measure the influence of think tank through applications of the Direct measure method or Indirect measure method (Jin, Zhang, & Zhang, 2017).

Applying a particular method is driven by the situation, the data nature, and the formulated type of questions (Ordonez, Mendizabal, Tchilingirian, Hernando, 2015). Qualitative analysis comprises several method frameworks such as the Delphi method, brainstorming, case analysis, and investigation. The sample selection is commonly purposive as it mainly considered professionals in the investigated field and may require face-to-face communication.  Quantitative may include bibliometric, patent analysis, social media, Big Data, econometric modeling.., etc. The sample involves a larger audience and does not include  selectivity on an individual level. Even a particular sampling method can be applied to the use of statistical methods to guarantee normal distribution. The key points include using statistics and analysis to derive outcomes and focusing on whether the sampled participants implement the results. Delphi method ensures the sample selection excludes any bias, and the outcome can be generalized for decision-making. Conducting questionnaires in a quantitative method can include a larger number of samples that can deliver broader and more accurate results. Generally, qualitative methods struggle with a weak approximation of the statistical methodology, and the quantitative lacks narrative forms. Alternatively, many consider applying mixed methods to summon both strengths and be able to cover expert’s perspective opinions and working experience with broader coverage of quantitative and quantified analytics for a conclusion. The mixed-method offers a nested design approach that combines both advantages and joins intensive case-study with the statistical analysis (Lieberman, 2005).


Goodman, J. C. (2005). What is a think tank? National Center for Policy Analysis2.

Jin, X. H., Zhang, Y. J., & Zhang, W. (2017). An Analysis of the Relationship Between Intelligence and Think Tank. DEStech Transactions on Environment, Energy and Earth Sciences, (icesee).. doi:10.12783/dteees/icesee2017/7901

Lieberman, E. S. (2005). Nested analysis as a mixed-method strategy for comparative research. American political science review, 435-452.

Ordonez, A., Mendizabal, E., Tchilingirian, J., Hernando, M. G. (2015). Researching a murky subject: definitions, questions, and methods. Retrieved from

Pop, I. (2012). Developing suitable methods in think tank and NGO training. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences46, 4061-4064. doi:/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.197

Weaver, R. (Ed.). (2017). Think tanks and civil societies: Catalysts for ideas and action. Routledge.

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