Think tank leaders and international experts came together to exchange ideas at the first gathering of all the think tanks in Cape Town, South Africa in 2012.

Day 1 - June 18, 2012

 

Opening sessions

Presenters:

Assefa Admassie, Martín Benavides

Session Details:Official welcome by Jean Lebel (IDRC, Canada) Introductory remarks from the TTI Exchange Planning Committee: Assefa Admassie (EEA/EEPRI, Ethiopia) and Martín Benavides (GRADE, Peru)

 

Plenary Panel: “Think Tanks: Promoting local solutions, influencing global thinking”

Presenters:

Rakesh Mohan: Indian Institute for Human Settlements (Moderator)
Paul Collier: Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University
Ruth Levine: Hewlett Foundation
Antonia Mutoro: Institute of Policy Analysis And Research - Rwanda (IPAR-Rwanda)
Samuel Wangwe: Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA)

Session Details:

- Explore how the work of local think tanks informing national policy-making increasingly shapes global thinking on development policy
- Highlight challenges that think tanks encounter in their national research and policy work, and identify lessons from “failures”
- Identify future potential roles and responsibilities for think tanks in influencing global development thinking through their work at national levels

Background Info:Presentation :  Antonia Mutoro Plenary [PDF]

 

 

Group Discussion: “Framing our understandings of success”

Presenters:

Peter Taylor: IDRC

Session Details:

- Introduce the key concepts underlying the Exchange
- Present some questions for participants to reflect upon throughout the Exchange, to help assess whether it meets their expectations and learning objectives
- Enable participants to interact through group reflection

Background Info:Presentation: Peter Taylor [PDF]
Policy Community Survey - Executive Summary [PDF]
Policy Community Survey Follow up - Full Presentation [PDF]

 

 

Parallel Panels: “On quality research: Think tanks’ successes and failures” - Panel A: Building capacity for quality research – challenges and opportunities for “young” think tanks

Presenters:
Ajaya Dixit
Institute for Social and Environmental Transition - Nepal (ISET-N)
Werner Hermani
Fundación ARU
Eberechukwu Uneze
Center for the Study of the Economies of Africa
Ibrahima Hathié
Initiative prospective agricole et rurale (IPAR)

Session Details:

These parallel sessions will enable participants to:

- Exchange think tanks’ experience in doing quality research, based on age, thematic focus, and working approach of the institution
- Reflect on what has worked and what has not from these different perspectives, when building and maintaining research quality
- Identify strategies, approaches and tools to sustain research quality, for application in different contexts
Watch Session video 1 Watch Session video 2

Background Info:Presentation: Ebere Uneze [PDF]

 

 

Parallel Panels: “On quality research: Think tanks’ successes and failures” - Panel B: Sustaining quality in economic policy research – lessons learned from institutional approaches

Presenters:
Eric Eboh
African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE)
Kamilla Gumede
J-PAL
Fernando Masi
Centro de Análisis y Difusión de la Economía Paraguaya (CADEP)
Watch Fernando's talk
Mustafizur Rahman
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)

Session Details:

These parallel sessions will enable participants to:

- Exchange think tanks’ experience in doing quality research, based on age, thematic focus, and working approach of the institution
- Reflect on what has worked and what has not from these different perspectives, when building and maintaining research quality
- Identify strategies, approaches and tools to sustain research quality, for application in different contexts
Watch Session video 1 Watch Session video 2

Background Info:Presentation: Eric Eboh [PDF]
Presentation: Fernando Masi [PDF]

 

 

Parallel Panels: “On quality research: Think tanks’ successes and failures” - Panel C: Sustaining quality in social policy research – lessons learned from institutional approaches

Presenters:
Rajeev Bhargava
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)
Mahmood Mamdani
Makerere Institute of Social Research
Sukhadeo Thorat
Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR)
Roxana Barrantes
Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP)

Session Details:

These parallel sessions will enable participants to:

- Exchange think tanks’ experience in doing quality research, based on age, thematic focus, and working approach of the institution
- Reflect on what has worked and what has not from these different perspectives, when building and maintaining research quality
- Identify strategies, approaches and tools to sustain research quality, for application in different contexts
Watch Session video 1 Watch Session video 2

Background Info:Presentation: Roxana Barrantes [PDF]

 

 

Parallel Panels: “On quality research: Think tanks’ successes and failures” - Panel D: Balancing research and advocacy - implications for quality research

Presenters:
Mauricio Díaz Burdett
Foro Social de Deuda Externa y Desarrollo de Honduras (FOSDEH)
Subrat Das
Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA)
Godber W. Tumushabe
Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE)
Oliver Babsons
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Session Details:

These parallel sessions will enable participants to:

- Exchange think tanks’ experience in doing quality research, based on age, thematic focus, and working approach of the institution
- Reflect on what has worked and what has not from these different perspectives, when building and maintaining research quality
- Identify strategies, approaches and tools to sustain research quality, for application in different contexts
Watch Session video 1 Watch Session video 2

Background Info:Presentation: Mauricio Diaz Burdett [PDF]
Presentation: Godber Tumushabe [PDF]

 

 

Think Tank Knowledge Expo

Presenters:

Paul Collier: Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University, Ruth Levine: Hewlett Foundation, Antonia Mutoro: Institute of Policy Analysis And Research - Rwanda (IPAR-Rwanda), Samuel Wangwe: Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA)

-->Session Details:

The Knowledge Expo is an exhibition of the work of the think tanks funded by the Think Tank Initiative and of their successes in different areas (such as leadership, research quality, strategic thinking, etc.) format.

This session will:

- Create a space where interaction, networking, and collaboration can take place among all participants
- Provide an opportunity for all the TTI funded institutions to showcase their work and connect with journalists, experts, and other policy actors


Day 2 - June 19th, 2012

 

Plenary Panel: “Think tanks and successful policy engagement: What works?”

Presenters:

Nancy Birdsall: Center for Global Development, Frannie Leautier: African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Andrea Ordóñez: Fundación para el Avance de las Reformas y las Oportunidades (Grupo FARO), Matthias Witt: GIZ

Session Details:

This session will:

- Draw out experiences and lessons from policy engagement strategies and approaches
- Identify what approaches have contributed to successful policy engagement
- Help share lessons from unsuccessful strategies and approaches to policy engagement

Background Info:Influencing as a learning process - Grupo FARO [PDF]
Presentation: Andrea Ordonez [PDF]

 

 

Workshops Part I - Workshop A: Enhancing organizational governance and the role of the Board in think tanks

Presenters:
Maureen O'Neil
Canadian Health Services Research Foundation
Carmen Ortiz
Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales (ASIES)
Shekhar Shah
National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER)
 

Session Details:

Focus

In this session we will discuss governance and its importance for organizational performance development. The main objective is to help participating Think Tank Initiative funded institutions to be more comfortable with how to structure their Boards and get the best from them. Areas to be discussed include the following:

- What is corporate governance?
- Governance of for-profit institutions vs. governance of non-profit institutions
- To whom is the organization accountable?
- Ways of accounting to stakeholders
- Role of the Board
- Board composition
- How to get the best from the Board

Objectives

- Share good practices in institutional governance for think tanks
- Review a range of tactics to help think tanks make the best use of their Board
- Identify mechanisms and procedures that promote think tank accountability internally and externally

Watch Session video 1 Watch Session video 2 Watch Session video 3Background Info:Workshop [PDF]
Presentation: Diakalia Sanogo [PDF]

 

 

Workshops Part I - Workshop B: Strategic outreach and research communications – tactics for policy impact

Presenters:
Owen Barder
Center for Global Development
Navdip Dhariwal
MiranFilms
Raghavan Suresh
Public Affairs Centre (PAC)
Julie LaFrance (Moderator)
IDRC

Session Details:

Focus

This interactive workshop will focus on sharing experiences on tactics, tools and approaches used by participating think tanks to communicate research to actors in the policy arena. The session will kick off with a brief summary of the key findings from the 2011 TTI Policy Engagement and Communications survey. This will be followed by a role-play exercise, with self-selected volunteers, which will provide an active, stimulating and fun way to get all participants thinking about their organization’s tactics for tailoring research messages to the interests of different audiences. The role-play will be followed by a meta-card analysis and group discussion.

Objectives

1. To provide a selection of methods and tools for effective policy outreach
2. To share experiences of tactics and approaches that enhance, and inhibit, policy outreach
3. To highlight communication techniques that help think tanks to sustain their outreach efforts

Watch role play & discussion Watch meta card analysis exerciseBackground Info:Workshop [PDF]

 

 

Workshops Part I - Workshop C: How to attract and nurture quality think tank researchers

Presenters:
Peter Taylor (Moderator)
IDRC
Orazio Bellettini
Fundación para el Avance de las Reformas y las Oportunidades (Grupo FARO)
Kulasabanathan Romeshun
Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA)
Jean Mensa
IDRC
Antonia Mutoro
Institute of Policy Analysis And Research - Rwanda (IPAR-Rwanda)
Vaqar Ahmed
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
 
 

Session Details:

Focus

This workshop explores firstly how think tanks find quality researchers, including the strategies they use to develop a cadre of research staff whose abilities are best suited to the mission of the organization. It highlights strategies such as attracting researchers from outside the organization as well as “bringing on” younger staff with potential to do quality work. Secondly, it investigates how think tanks can create an enabling environment for researchers, with particular emphasis on internal culture, leadership and incentives. It draws upon lessons learned from 5 think tanks engaged in action research on organizational capacity building, as well as the experiences of all participants.

Objectives

1. Provide insights into think tanks’ efforts in strengthening their overall research quality
2. Highlight lessons learned on what does and what does not incentivise research staff to produce quality work
3. Share experiences on how think tanks build capacity of quality researchers, and otherwise seek to retain them
4.Identify strategies to help mentor, build capacity and key competencies of young research staff through a participatory environment for public policy academicians, planners and practitioners

Watch Part 1 Watch Part 2 Watch Part 3 Watch Part 4 Watch Part 5 Watch Part 6Background Info:Workshop [PDF]
Organizational Capacity Building Workshop [PDF]

 

 

Workshops Part I - Workshop D: Balancing commissioned work and long-term research

Presenters:
Kathryn Touré (Moderator)
IDRC
Assefa Admassie
Ethiopian Economic Association/Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute (EEA/EEPRI)
Lykke Andersen
Instituto de Estudios Avanzados en Desarrollo (INESAD)
Khalida Ghaus
Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC)

Session Details:

Focus

Does commissioned work detract from a long-term research agenda, or should it be part and parcel of strategic planning for a think tank? Does a culture of consultancy kill research or can the two be mutually reinforcing? Is it feasible to undertake short-term work for international organizations whilst at the same time providing meaningful policy advice to government, regardless of the national context? This workshop enables leading think tanks from around the world to voice their experiences and opinions on such questions, and to share and learn from each other’s experiences through specific examples and mini-debates. Through a highly interactive process, a series of lessons will be highlighted and articulated in a format that can be shared with participants’ own institutions and a much wider audience.

Objectives

1. Identify approaches that help to balance commissioned work and long-term research
2. Highlight strategies for combining these two different kinds of activities
3. Share tactics for meaningful output from both commissioned reports and scholarly publications

Watch Part 1 Watch Part 2Background Info:Workshop [PDF]

 

 

Workshops Part II - Workshop A: How a digital strategy can enhance think tank management, research and communications

Presenters:
Peter K.A. da Costa (Moderator)
Africa-based Consultant, Hewlett Foundation
Enrique Mendizabal
Mendizabal Ltd, On Think Tanks blog
Nick Scott
Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
Vaqar Ahmed
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)

Session Details:

Focus

The workshop will articulate why think tanks should develop and implement a digital strategy. It will focus on ways in which digital approaches and tools can strengthen the three core business functions of think tanks – management, research and in particular communications. Participants will have the opportunity to update their knowledge on the state of the art, seek advice on the choices and trade-offs to be made given their specific external as well as internal contexts, and determine how best to pursue a digital strategy in their specific organizational context.

Objectives

1. Provide a starting point for think tanks to begin thinking of a digital strategy that fits their context, capacity and institutional needs
2. Help think tanks determine when, if and how they should take advantage of various digital tools and applications for management, research and communication of their work, internally as well as externally

Watch the Digital Strategy DiscussionBackground Info:Workshop [PDF]

 

 

Workshops Part II - Workshop B: What difference are we making? Analyzing and measuring the impact of think tanks

Presenters:
John Okidi (Moderator)
TTI
Dushni Weerakoon
Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka
Eric Eboh
African Institute for Applied Economics
Zenda Ofir
Evalnet
 
 

Session Details:

Focus

Think tanks are keen to demonstrate their roles in informing and influencing policy. The capability and practice to monitor and assess the impact of think tanks vary with context. This workshop explores practical approaches to monitoring, measuring and analyzing the impact of think tanks. An international consultant will discuss a broad perspective of the subject, followed by a presentation of case studies from Africa, Latin America and South Asia to illustrate how some organizations are approaching the issues. Break out groups will deepen participants’ exploration of ideas and experiences before the workshop concludes with a plenary and wrap-up session.

Objectives

1. Share ways of using indicators and metrics to measure impact
2. Compare the value of alternative measures of impact in the public domain
3. Support development of capacity in monitoring and measuring impact

Background Info:Workshop [PDF]
Executive Summary - Learning to Monitor Think Tanks Impact [PDF]
Full Report - Learning to Monitor Think Tanks Impact [PDF]

 

 

Workshops Part II - Workshop C: Effective leadership of think tanks

Presenters:
Samar Verma (Moderator)
TTI
Sue Soal
Community Development Resource Association (CDRA)
Hans Gutbrod
Caucasus Research Resource Centers
Nicolás Ducoté
Government of the City of Buenos Aires

Session Details:

Focus

Strategic and effective leadership is a critical factor for policy influence. Policy influence is a complex process that is rooted in multiple factors including context, but also sometimes chance. The workshop seeks to draw out the kaleidoscopic dimensions of the very vital leadership question, and attempts to draw out common lessons that could be useful for leadership development and identification. The resource persons will lead the collective reflection and participation process through a set of key guiding questions drawn from their experience and knowledge. The methods used will be very practical and often guided by anecdotes and reflections from the participants.

Objectives

1. Identify key characteristics of effective leadership of think tanks
2. Share concrete approaches for strengthening leadership
3. Draw lessons learned from less successful leadership practices

Watch Part 1 Watch Part 2Background Info:Workshop [PDF]

 

 

Workshops Part II - Domestic resource mobilisation for think tanks

Presenters:
Federico Burone (Moderator)
IDRC
Neville Gabriel
Southern Africa Trust
Neelam Makhijani
Resource Alliance

Session Details:

Focus

This workshop will analyse the relevance of the mobilization of domestic resources in developing the maximum potential of think tanks’ work. The mobilization of domestic resources is a determining factor in a think tank’s success. The financial sustainability of think tanks depends heavily on reaching a proper balance between various sources of funding, as well as demonstrating the existence of business models aimed at creative approaches, and effective communication of results. The participants will be invited to collaborate from the very beginning of the session, emphasizing the aspects that, from their perspective, are of greatest interest.

Objectives

1. Analyze the characteristics of possible sources of domestic financial resources in low and medium income countries, especially for the tasks of a think tank
2. Share experiences of successful mobilization of resources on the domestic scene
3. Discuss lessons learned in the implementation of business plans oriented towards the mobilization of domestic resources for think tanks

Watch Part 1 Watch Part 2 Watch Part 3 Watch Part 4Background Info:Workshop [PDF]

 


Day 3 - June 20th, 2012

 

Plenary Discussion: “Donor-Think Tank Dialogue”

Presenters:

Peter Evans: Department for International Development (DFID) (Moderator),Goran Buldioski: Open Society Think Tank Fund, Stefan Dercon : Department for International Development (DFID), Louis Kasekende: Bank of Uganda, Jean Mensa: Institute of Economic Affairs - Ghana (IEA-Ghana), Shekhar Shah: National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER)

Session Details:

This session will:

- Highlight global and national priority areas for think tank contributions through policy research
- Bring forth donor perceptions of the value of policy research in relation to how the donor community is evolving
- Help exchange lessons learned from different forms of engagement between donors and think tanks – what has worked (e.g. How can local think tanks gain a seat on regional/global debates?), and what has not

 

Group Discussion: “Enabling Success”

Presenters:

Debapriya Bhattacharya: Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) (Moderator),Nicolás Ducoté: Government of the City of Buenos Aires, Linda Frey: Hewlett Foundation, Moses Ikiara: Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), Marie-Angélique Savané : International Consultant

Session Details:

This session will:

- Address the questions posed at the beginning of the Exchange and draw out conclusions
- Highlight areas of agreement and consensus that emerged during the event
- Identify potential areas for further work (e.g. research, collaboration and networking) to promote successful institutional performance

 

Plenary Discussion: Conclusions, Evaluation and Closing Remarks

Presenters:

Hans Gutbrod: Caucasus Research Resource Centers (Moderator),Paul Brest: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Rashad Cassim: South African Reserve Bank, Kwame Owino: Institute of Economic Affairs - Kenya (IEA-Kenya)

Session Details:

This session will:

- Address the questions posed at the beginning of the Exchange and draw out conclusions

- Highlight areas of agreement and consensus that emerged during the event


- Identify potential areas for further work (e.g. research, collaboration and networking) to promote successful institutional performance

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