International survey says Singapore’s not yet a think-tank hub

February 15th, 2009

It’s been said that think tanks help society “think the unthinkable”. Journalists depend on the intellectual capital they generate. The bad news for Singapore journalism, though, is that the country is not yet regarded as a global think tank hub.

According to a survey by Foreign Policy magazine:

  • Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and Tokyo are the regional think tank hubs of Asia.
  • No Singapore institution ranks among the top 50 non-US think tanks. The Japan Institute for International Affairs, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, Indonesia’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies and India’s Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis are in the top 50.

Singapore does show up within the Asian Top 25, with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies ranked at 7 and the Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies (now the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at NTU) at 10.

The study started with 407 institutions nominated by a panel of experts comprised of peer institutions, donors, directors of think tank networks, and representatives from intergovernmental organisations. The survey asked more than 5,000 organizations to select what they considered to be the top think tanks in the world, as well as by region and research area.

“Think tank wonks do more than churn out endless policy papers,” the report says. “Presidents and Prime Ministers seek them out because they are critical to the global ideas industry. They generate and fine-tune solutions to some of the most complex and vexing issues of the day. Leaders around the world need them to provide independent analysis, help set policy agendas, and bridge the gap between knowledge and power.”

You can download the full report at the Foreign Policy website:

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