Jim McGann on think tanks, politics, and the casualties in the war of ideas
July 20, 2017
In The Fifth Estate: Think Tanks, Public Policy, and Governance, James G. McGann illustrates how policymakers have come to value the independent analysis and advice provided by think tanks and why it has become one of the defining characteristics of the American political system. Drawing on case studies in both foreign and domestic policy, McGann clarifies the correlation between think tank research and the policies enacted by the past three presidential administrations. He also describes a phenomenon known as “the revolving door,” where think tanks provide former government officials an opportunity to share insights from public service, remain involved in policy debates, and continue to provide advice and commentary. Based on the history and the level of involvement seen today, the influence of think tanks is unlikely to diminish in the coming years.
James G. McGann Ph.D. is a senior lecturer of International Studies at the Lauder Institute, director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program and senior fellow, Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. McGann earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and was a National Fellow at Stanford University while writing his doctoral thesis, which examined the nature and evolution of public-policy research organizations in the United States. His research and consulting have enabled him to work with governments and civil society organizations in over 100 countries. He has authored over numerous books on think tanks and is the creator and editor of the annual Global Go To Think Tank Index.