The word think commonly refers to the persons brain and the actions that it does. The word tank can mean many things but often people think of a tank rolling across a open desert. The term think tank, it just doesn t seem like proper English, but it is actually a proper term used on surveying the landscape in Canada. Think tanks are actually policy institutes and have been a visible presence on the Canadian political landscape in Canada. Think tanks in Canada and, for that matter, in all advanced industrial and developing countries such as our neighbors to the south the united states of america, share a common desire to shape and mold public opinion and public policy. They all vary considerably in terms of size, resources, areas of expertise, and the quality and quantity of publications they produce with Canada when comparing to the USA is extremely smaller. A think tank may consist of a handful of people involved actively in studying a particular policy area who seek, inform and educate policy makers and the public through a variety of channels. The majority of think tanks in Canada fall into this category. At the opposite extreme, a think tank may house several hundred economists, political scientists and statisticians who provide expertise on a broad range of issues. An example of a think tank is the Security and Defense forum whose mandate is to encourage training of Canadian experts on military and strategic issues, in order to respond to present and future security requirements and arouse a nationwide interest in these issues. The USA hold some of the largest think tanks in the world. Given the tremendous diversity of think tanks that exist in many advanced industrial countries, it is not surprising that scholars have consciously avoided trying to define these institutions. Indeed, other that acknowledging that think tanks are nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations engaged in the study of public policy, few scholars have outlined other criteria which would allow them to distinguish between think tanks and other types of nonprofit governmental nonprofit organizations including interest groups, religious movements and, trade unions which also seek to provide policy advise to government. In fact, as interest groups have attempted to acquire greater policy expertise to enhance their status in the policy making community and as think tanks have looked to interest groups to learn more about lobbying strategies, institutional differences between think tanks and interest groups have become increasingly blurred.
The next thing that this essay will deal with is the numerous waves of think tanks, the first one being governmental specialists. In the first wave, several royal commissions and task forces had been created to investigate particular policy questions and to make suggestions on how the government could address and resolve specific problems. However, despite the important role played by several of these bodies, they only remained in existence until their mandate was completed. permenate government jobs is what was missing in this process. the second wave, the creation of government councils helped to fill the void in the governmental apparatus, but considerable gaps in the research community remained.
In observing the increasingly crowded think tank community in Canada, there is a tendency to assume, usually without foundation, that think tanks exercise considerable influence in the political arena. We are often left with the impression that these organizations are largely responsible for shaping the political and economic agenda of government. Unfortunately, few scholars have attempted to explain how to measure the influence of think tanks let alone how they seek to achieve it. Although it is difficult to accurately assess how much or little influence think tanks wield in policy making process, it is non-the less possible to make informed judgments about the nature of thinks tanks influences. A useful point of departure is to examine the various channels think tanks relay on to exercise influence. While some strategies that think tanks rely on in order to enhance their status in the policymaking communities are concealed from the public, many can be easily identified. In closing, think tanks are a big part of the workings of the Canadian government, they are in charge of making and researching our government s policies. Without think tanks to research the policies that are being made, we would have no clue in the impact that think tanks are influencing today s political agenda. Think tanks have become permanent fixtures in the policy making process..