How Do Advocacy Think Tanks Relate to Academic Knowledge? The Case of Norway
Based on an investigation of the three main advocacy think tanks in Norway, Johan Christensen (Leiden University) and Cathrine Holst have written an article in Scandinavian Political Studies.
Think tanks often present themselves as contributors to a more reflective and informed political debate and their policy advice as based on knowledge and research. Yet, they also claim to be alternatives to university research and research institutes and often use knowledge and expertise to pursue explicitly ideological agendas. How do think tanks handle this balancing act of knowledge provision and ideological commitment? How do they relate to academia and what characterizes their approach to academic knowledge? The paper explores these questions through an investigation of the three main advocacy think tanks in Norway, based on an analysis of their organization, activities, staff and publications, and through interviews with think tank staff. The paper describes the specific ways in which these think tanks gather and utilize knowledge, and how they position themselves relative to academia. It also reflects on possible explanations for this pattern and on its normative implications.