Monday, November 19, 2012

Madsen Pirie: How a Think Tank Can Influence Events

Madsen Pirie, co-founder of the Adams Smith Institute, based in London, was in Paris on November 16th, at the Institute for Research in Economics and Fiscal Issues. Madsen worked with the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and influenced the reforms implemented in the United Kingdom in the 1980's. 

Madsen Pirie and Sylvain Charat
We had the pleasure to hear Madsen sharing his experience on the works and influence of think tanks. Here is Madsen's short summary of his Parisian speech:

"What a think tank should not do.  It is not, and should not behave like, a political party.  It does not stand for election, take decisions, or implement legislation.  It tries instead to advise those who might listen.

It is not like a business, in that people do not buy its product.  It should develop and explain its ideas, and seek support from anyone who approves of what it does.  It should not be a lobbyist for particular businesses or sectors, or its ideas will be discounted as representing only a commercial interest rather than the public good.  A think tank should not solicit funds by offering to introduce lobbyists to ministers.

It should not tie itself to any particular politicians, because politicians go down as well as up, and some have quite short sell-by dates.  While closeness to a politician might bring immediate attention, it is not a formula for long-term influence.  A think tank should beware of depending on public funds, local, national or European, or it will find itself serving the interests of its paymasters.

What should it do?  My answer was that it should be independent and seek to influence events by influencing thinking.  One that can change the intellectual climate can ultimately change the policies that result from that climate."

Madsen's book: "Think Tank, The Story of the Adams Smith Institute"."

No comments:

Post a Comment