Legislative Debate, Policy Entrepreneurship, and the Political Economy of U.S. Think Tanks

British Journal of Political Science 39(2):225-242 (April 2009)

37 Pages Posted: 23 May 2007 Last revised: 18 Oct 2013

See all articles by Anthony M. Bertelli

Anthony M. Bertelli

Bocconi University - DONDENA - Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics; Pennsylvania State University

Jeffrey B. Wenger

RAND Corporation; American University - School of Public Affairs

Abstract

The recent growth in the formation of think tanks in the United States raises questions about their role in the democratic process. In this article we present a theory of think tank formation. Our theory posits that committee debate creates incentives for legislators to seek research-based, policy-analytic information supporting competing policy positions. As political entrepreneurs recognize this demand, they supply think tanks just as scholars have suggested they supply interest groups. An important macro-level implication of our theory is that as legislators' ideological polarization increases, the demand for policy analysis increases, as does the number of think tanks supplied. When controlling for market factors measuring the opportunity cost of investing in think tanks, we show empirical support for this proposition in the U.S. from 1903-2003.

Keywords: interest groups, think tanks, congress, committee, debate, research-based information, policy advocacy

JEL Classification: H11

Suggested Citation

Bertelli, Anthony M. and Wenger, Jeffrey B., Legislative Debate, Policy Entrepreneurship, and the Political Economy of U.S. Think Tanks. British Journal of Political Science 39(2):225-242 (April 2009), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=988204

Anthony M. Bertelli (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - DONDENA - Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park, PA 16802-3306
United States

HOME PAGE: http://tonybertelli.com

Jeffrey B. Wenger

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA
United States
310 393 0411 (Phone)

American University - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Washington, DC 20016
United States

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