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
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: Suggested Citation