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Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise Paperback – 23 May 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (23 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521673941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521673945
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.6 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Andrew Rich's new work is the single best book available on think tanks. It's packed with ideas, insights, and fascinating detail about the operations of these public policy enterprises. His arguments are carefully drawn and are supported by an abundance of convincing evidence. Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise is essential reading for anyone interested in the subject.' Jeffrey M. Berry, Tufts University

'Andrew Rich's study of evolution and role of think tanks in American politics is a first-class contribution to our understanding of public policy making. Employing both quantitative analysis and dozens of interviews, Rich identifies when and how think tanks most effectively influence the policy making process. He also shows that, ironically, as think tanks become more ideologically disposed and play to the media, they lose the very influence they seek. This is easily the best book on the subject.' James D. Savage, University of Virginia

'This timely study is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the growing centrality of nonprofit organizations and subsidized expertise in contemporary public life - and indispensable to understanding the institutional basis of America's conservative revolution.' Peter Dobkin Hall, Harvard University

'A lucid, well-written empirical study of the influence exerted on public policy by the wide range of think tanks, which provides, for the first time, hard data on the differences between think tanks whose analyses are driven by an ideological agenda and those which derive their policy positions from an objective assessment of the facts.' Joel L. Fleishman, Duke University

'This is a terrific book. It is not only the definitive political science treatment of think tanks in the United States, but also an extremely insightful study of the transformation of the policymaking community and process in Washington. Rich shows that the roles that experts play in influencing policy are severely constrained, and that think tank efforts to improve the timeliness and visibility of their policy ideas frequently come at a cost in terms of credibility. Anyone who reads this book will come away with a deeper understanding of the complex forces that shape contemporary policymaking in the United States.' R. Kent Weaver, Georgetown University

Book Description

While the number of think tanks active in American politics has more than quadrupled since the 1970s, their influence has not expanded proportionally. Instead, the known ideological proclivities of many, especially newer, think tanks have come to undermine the credibility with which experts and expertise are viewed by public officials.

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These tributes by a president and a speaker of the House more than twenty-eight years apart are high praise for two organizations that are both commonly known as think tanks. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Aug. 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you study any complex issue being debated in the U.S. Congress or state legislatures, you are likely to find a torrent of reports from independent think tanks. Who are these groups and where did they come from? Good question - and one that political scientist Andrew Rich answers quite thoroughly. This often fascinating study shines its bright light on think tanks, largely overlooked players in the political process. At times, though, Rich's study tantalizes with generalizations, and then it tends toward scholarly restraint at exactly the moment when the reader wants some juicy details. We suggest this book to anyone who wants to shape - or really understand - the public debate on complex policy issues.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Highly Recommended! 4 Aug. 2004
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you study any complex issue being debated in the U.S. Congress or state legislatures, you are likely to find a torrent of reports from independent think tanks. Who are these groups and where did they come from? Good question - and one that political scientist Andrew Rich answers quite thoroughly. This often fascinating study shines its bright light on think tanks, largely overlooked players in the political process. At times, though, Rich's study tantalizes with generalizations, and then it tends toward scholarly restraint at exactly the moment when the reader wants some juicy details. We suggest this book to anyone who wants to shape - or really understand - the public debate on complex policy issues.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Most authoritative, objective survey of U.S. think tanks 30 May 2004
By Frank T. Manheim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Political scientist Rich spent 7 years writing this book - and it shows. The chapters cover evolution, political demography, credibility, policy influence, and the role of experts in think tanks. Rich homes in on just about every hard question I could think of and some I didn't think an academic author would dare touch. Rich provides ratings for ideology, influence, credibility, and visibility of individual think tanks. He compiled these indices by using polls from congressional staff and journalists and interviews with some 135 experts from key organizations of every political flavor. These include the President of the Heritage Foundation (Edwin Feulner), rated as the most conservative and also most influential think tank. Rich concludes, as did most earlier writers like Smith, Abelson, Ricci, and McGann and Weaver (2003), that think tanks have far more influence on policymaking in the U.S. than do universities and academic institutions. If you want to know who's who among the think tanks, or how they influence legislation and public policy, this is your book. I mentioned in the title that the study is objective. Rich surely has opinions, but the only place I really discerned where his heart lay was early in the book, when he almost wistfully reports that earlier thinks tended to focus on giving disinterested research results and information - whereas the recent trend has been toward avowed advocacy among the most influential organizations.
As a person interested in the demise of liberalism in ... 8 Dec. 2014
By Rande W. Scarbrough - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a person interested in the demise of liberalism in America, I have spent some time looking at the role of the "alternative political epistemology" as I call it; the alternative misinformation universe created by the right in other words. "Think" tanks have been important in creating this different world, sponsoring right wing "scholars," aggressively marketing their publications and viewpoints, appearing on countless pundit platforms, and generally pushing the right wing agenda. I used quotation marks above for " think" and "scholars" because there is precious little of either in the right wing think tanks. Organizations that have sponsored the likes of Bloom, Bork, and Murray cannot make any claims to objective scholarship whatsoever.
Professor Rich consistently down plays the role of these operations in this book, which I think seriously underestimates their influence. He argues that the aggressive marketing of the right wing agenda has hurt their credibility, but I feel that these operations have been instrumental in pushing a successful right wing agenda.
This tome is also almost 20 years old, and I could not find an updated version, nor get a response from Professor Rich when I attempted to contact him.
For those seeking basic background on the rise of the right wing think tanks, this book is very valuable as a " primer" on the subject.
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