Think Tanks, Foreign Policy, and Emerging Powers

  • James G. McGann


The definition of the term “think tank” has changed significantly over time. Since their emergence in the 1830s, there have been four distinct eras during which the definitions of think tanks have developed. In the first era, think tanks were considered completely independent; in the second era, they were considered government contracted; in the third era, they became more focused on scholars and academics; and lastly in the present era, many different scholars give slightly different definitions of the term “think tank,” but these almost always have to do with expertise on a certain topic aiding policy-making and governance. There is much debate regarding the independence of think tanks when it comes to legality, finances, and intellect, yet most academics agree that think tanks generally enjoy a significant amount of independence. This chapter also aims to acknowledge the conditional differences that a think tank may face in countries outside the United States, which may cause it to operate differently. It becomes especially imperative to note the difference in the think tanks working in other regions such as the developing world or among emerging powers.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James G. McGann
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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