Why might think tanks shoot themselves in the foot?

"Why do think tanks and committees at times produce inadequate conclusions?"

Think tanks and other committees of people who have been brought together to address challenges have a daunting task: make recommendations on issues they often are not qualified to answer in a nuanced way. Even if someone has been an expert in a field, they cannot be expected to have a detailed understanding of all aspects of that field; advice from specialist academic theorists and researchers is needed, and, particularly, a multitude of perspectives need to be debated. If the in-house experts do not consult a broad scope of peer-reviewed material, and talk to relevant authors of that material, the wheel will just be reinvented again, and poorly.

The Journal of the American Medical Infomatics Association, for example, points to the difficulties associated with evaluating healthcare IT outside of academia: project teams at "nonacademic institutions" encounter challenges, which include, "inappropriately scoped and resourced evaluation efforts, inappropriate choice of metrics, inadequate planning for data collection and analysis, and lack of consideration of qualitative methodologies" (2009 Sep-Oct; 16(5): 631–636).

Briiij offers think tanks and committees the opportunity to talk to academics about cutting-edge research that is being done, and research that has already been done, in specific areas of interest, in order to guard against well-intentioned but poorly-informed conclusions.

About the author

Bill has a PhD in Education in Autonomy/Empowerment and is on the casual teaching staff at Macquarie University in Sydney. He has been a partner in businesses focused on developing innovation in organizations since 2003.