Exchange Opportunities between Think Tanks and Academia: Allocation versus Symbiosis in the Structure of Intellectual Production
27 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2022
Date Written: December 12, 2021
Are think tanks primarily middlemen of ideas that translate academic work for activists and policy makers? Is a crisis, real or imagined, necessary for reform? I treat reform as an economic production process and contrast the allocation and exchange paradigms for modeling how think tanks and academia coordinate efforts to produce institutional change. A traditional model of the intellectual structure of production maintains a linear supply-chain approach, with academics as idea originators. This traditional model implicitly treats intellectual production as a problem of resource allocation. Yet, when viewed instead through the exchange paradigm, the intellectual structure of production resembles a dynamic network of symbiotic relationships. As technologies of idea dissemination advance, coordination between think tanks and academics increasingly resembles a multidimensional, multidirectional network of nonmarket-exchange opportunities. In the resource-allocation paradigm, donors seek a return on investments within particular stages of intellectual production, but when the structure of intellectual production is viewed through the exchange paradigm, the better question may be how to support exchange opportunities between academics and think tanks.
Keywords: ideas, think tanks, structure of intellectual production, status quo, institutional change
JEL Classification: A11, D78, E65
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation