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Why think tanks matter in the era of digital and political disruptions

Bruegel is pleased to host this panel discussion as part of the global launch of the 2018 Global Go To Think Tank Index, published by the University o



Event materials

List of 2018 Why Think Tanks Matter Events

2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report


At this event, we discussed the impact of disruptive technologies, business models and politics on think tanks, as well as looking at how think tanks are managing these challenges and seizing the opportunities presented by these new developments.

Think tanks face an operating environment that is full of disruptions. In the wake of fake news occupying a permanent place in the media landscape, it is up to think tanks to simplify and separate important facts from the “noise”.  It was argued that the media have been abdicating from asking the pressing questions - think tanks can take upon this uncomfortable role and fulfil the mid-way between academia and journalism. A case in point is the Ukrainian, in which a new generation of think tanks emerged with a mission to close the gap in the very traditional media landscape. At the same time, in an age when battling polarized opinions has become the rule, think tanks provide an example of civil, fact-based and impartial communication.

While the role to advice policymakers is important, the think tanker challenge lies mostly in connecting with the general public. In this regard, there is no doubt that think tanks have benefited from the new digital era. Nowadays, it is much easier to been seen and heard, which makes now the time to build a momentum with a general audience. However, to achieve this, the traditional way of communicating – analytical and described by some as ‘cold’ – may need to change. This is why tailored engagement by think tanks in different platforms is key.

Finally, to keep being relevant, think tanks need to be diverse in their composition. Otherwise, only half of the narrative is being built. Another challenge is to move beyond "group thinking" and provide innovative, critical solutions.