Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Independence of think tanks

John Blundell, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs , argues that we need to guard think tanks against undue influence. He writes,
The secret of success in the think tank world is independence. Being your own man is crucial, especially with think tanks playing an increasingly central role in policy making. On that front they have taken over from the universities.

Here are the rules I’ve tried to stick to:
  • No corporate money tied to projects either explicitly or implicitly
  • No taxpayer funds
  • No FTSE 100 company to give more than 2% of budget
  • No corporate sector (eg oil, banking, pharmaceuticals) to give more than 5%.
An interesting set of rules, but Blundell is right in that a credible commitment to Independence is all important when trading in the currency of ideas and principles. A point universities need to keep in mind given the amount of funding that comes from government.

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