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2019 UPenn report shows growing impact of Chinese think tanks

Thursday,Jan 30, 2020

On January 30, 2020, the 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) report was launched in Paris, London, Washington D.C, New York and approximately 150 other cities around the world.


The report shows AI and emerging technologies having a profound impact on think tanks. It also reflects the growing international stature of Chinese think tanks.



A number of leading scholars and think tank experts, including the heads of the Center for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS) and the Hudson Institute as well as James G. McGann, director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program(TTCSP)at University of Pennsylvania, attended the launch ceremony at CSIS in Washington D.C. James G. McGann introduced the report.


AI and emerging technologies will have a profound impact on the think tanks


The report points out that think tanks have not caught up to the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution has begun. Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing all aspects of social, economic and political life, bringing new opportunities and challenges to think tanks. These changes require that think tanks change too.


For example, the report points out that the use of advanced data collection methods such as web scraping and AI can effectively improve the speed, accuracy and quality of research. Application programming interfaces and data visualizations provide critical new ways for think tanks to combat the global increase in fake news and disinformation. However, think tanks have not been agile enough in utilizing such emerging technologies.


The report says that emerging technologies have the potential to revolutionize and enhance the world of research or to marginalize think tanks. For think tanks, the challenges and risks of emerging technologies are various. First, AI bias has the potential to harm global governance, which think tanks work to improve through data-driven research. Second, as global think tanks navigate the hazards of emerging technologies, the need for a diverse workplace and leadership also increases. Therefore, the report suggests that the business model of think tanks must evolve. Think tanks should utilize big data, machine learning for predictive analysis, and other emerging technologies.


It is also important for think tanks to combine technological skills and ambitions with diversity and awareness of potential biases. Furthermore, it is also crucial to ensure that a diverse set of voices are contributing to research agendas and vigilant of potential discrimination via AI. AI knows no national boundaries, and as such it calls for the international collaboration of the think tanks.


Chinese think tanks have gained more global impact


1. The number of think tanks in the world is rising. Europe and North America are still the regions with the largest number of think tanks




This chart reflects the number of think tanks in 2018-2019 based on data collected as of December 2018


The report shows that this year, all 8,248 think tanks catalogued in the TTCSP’s Global Think Tank Database participated in the nomination and ranking process. The number of European think tanks is 2219 (26.9%), accounting for the largest number of thinks tanks in the world. The number of think tanks in North America increased from last year to 2058 (25.0%). Together, Europe and North America accounted for 51.9% of the world's think tanks, an increase from last year.


The number of think tanks in Asia, Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa remained the same as last year, with 1829 (22.2%), 1023 (12.4%), 612 (7.4%) and 507 (6.1%) respectively.


2. The top 10 think tanks worldwide in 2019


A change to the 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index rankings is that any think tank that has been ranked as the top think tank (#1) in a category for three consecutive years will be recognized as a center of excellence and will not be included in the rankings for that category for the next three years.


The Brookings Institution has been ranked first in the list of top think tanks worldwide for three consecutive years so it has been recognized as a “center of excellence” for 2016-2018 and is not included in the rankings for that category for 2019.


This year, a total of 176 think tanks were shortlisted in the Top Think Tanks Worldwide. Compared with last year, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Bruegel Institute surpassed the French Institute of International Relations to claim first and second place respectively.


Third to tenth ranked think tanks in descending order were: the French Institute of International Relations, CSIS, the Fundac?a?o Getulio Vargas, Chatham House, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Heritage Foundation, the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Wilson Center of FKA Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholar. The Rand Corporation, which ranked 9th last year, was ranked 12th this year.


3. The global impact of Chinese think tanks has risen steadily. Eight Chinese think tanks have been recognized in the top 100 think tanks in the world for two consecutive years.


This year’s report contained a total of 54 rankings, spanning the four major categories of overall ranking, region, area of research and special achievements. Chinese think tanks ranked in 40 categories in the report.


In recent years, the Chinese government has repeatedly emphasized the need to build a “new type of think tank with Chinese characteristics” by supporting the development of Chinese think tanks. Meanwhile, Chinese think tanks are playing an increasingly important role in global governance and policy studies, with more and more voices from Chinese think tanks on the international stage.


The list of 2019 Top 100 Think Tanks Worldwide included the following Chinese think tanks that have now made this list for two consecutive years: China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the Chinese Institute of International Relations (CIIS), the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC), the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Beijing), the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), the Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS) of FKA Center for International and Strategic Studies as well as the Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS). Of these, CCG is the only non-governmental think tank from China on the list.


Furthermore, 27 Chinese think tanks were on the list of 2019 top Think Tanks in China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea.


4. Chinese think tanks rank highly in diverse categories


In research, the international impact of Chinese think tanks is gradually increasing.


Chinese think tanks made the top ranking list for National Defense and National Security Research, Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks, Education Policy Think Tanks, Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks, Environment Policy Think Tanks, Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks, Global Health Policy Think Tanks, International Development Policy Think Tanks, International Economics Policy Think Tanks, Science and Technology Policy Think Tanks, Social Policy Think Tanks and other research areas.  


In terms of special achievements, a number of Chinese think tanks were ranked in categories regarding communication, creative management, and cooperation. This included lists for Best Government-Affiliated Think Tank, Best University-Affiliated Think Tanks, Best Independent Think Tank, Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks, Best Managed Think Tank, Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by a Think Tank, Best New Think Tanks, Best Policy Study-Report Produced by a Think Tank, Best Think Tank Network, Best Transdisciplinary Research Think Tank, Best Use of Social Media and Networks, Think Tank to Watch in 2019, Think Tanks with the Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program, Think Tank with the Best Use of the Internet, Best Use of Media (Print or Electronic), and Think Tanks with the Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals.


Attendees at the CSIS launch event included Brian Finlay, president and CEO Henry L. Stimson Center; Rob Floyd, director and senior advisor of the African Center for Economic Transformation; Victoria Herrmann, president & Managing Director of Arctic Institute; Kenneth R. Weinstein, president and CEO of Hudson Institute; Daniel Lippman, White House reporter of POLITICO and John J. Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS and Langone Chair in American Leadership. These experts joined in panel discussions on the importance of international cooperation, knowledge, and policy partnerships to address the critical policy challenges we face in an era of turbulence and transition. Xu Haiyu, CCG’s deputy secretary-general also participated in the event.




About the 2019 GGTTI report:


The 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) marks the fourteenth year of continued work by TTCSP to highlight the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide.


This year, all 8,248 think tanks catalogued in the TTCSP’s Global Think Tank Database were contacted and encouraged to participate in the nomination and ranking process. In addition to over 68,191 journalists, policy makers, public and private donors, and functional and regional area specialists on the TTCSP listserv participated and over 3974 fully or partially completed the nomination and ranking surveys. Finally, a group of peers and experts was asked to help rank and review the list of public policy research centers of distinction for 2019. 


To refine and validate the generated ranking lists, TTCSP assembled Expert Panels comprised of hundreds of members from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Additionally, new media – the website and social media presence – helped to communicate and disseminate information about criteria for this year’s Index to a wider audience. Given the rigor and scope of the nomination and selection processes, the rankings produced thus far have been described as the insider’s guide to the global marketplace of ideas. 


From CCG,2020-01-30
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