What are some typical academic policies

The reform debate and the intellectuals

Martin Thunert

To person

Dr. phil, born 1959; Habilitation in political science at the University of Hamburg; currently DAAD Visiting Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.
Address: University of Michigan, Department of Political Science, 6735 Haven Hall, 505 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 and PO Box 701012, 60560 Frankfurt / M.
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Publications on the politics of western industrialized countries, in particular on the USA, Canada and Great Britain, on questions of political advice, constitutional policy and lobbying.

In Germany, scientific expertise is underutilized by politicians. "Think tanks" have to market their services in a more target-group-oriented manner and seek active contact with politics and business.

Policy advice in a crisis?

"The think tank culture is flourishing in the USA, but in Germany they don't have much to report," was the lead with which a major German daily newspaper recently introduced a report on policy advice in Germany. [1] Policy advice is indeed booming, [2] but it is increasingly exposed to criticism. The complaints about deficits in scientific advisory practice persist - especially in one of the main areas of scientific advice, economic policy. [3] "Phobia against practical relevance", "theoretical playfulness", "linguistic isolation", "lack of realism and ignorance of political processes" as well as "ignorance of the shortage of time factor" - this is how the makers judge the scientists. Conversely, theoreticians see politics blocked less by inadequate forms of advice and a lack of ideas than by implementation problems of an institutional nature, as well as political blinkers, political instrumentalization of scientific advice, poor time management, the inability to set priorities and a "impoverishment of future-oriented thinking" [4] . These accusations are not a specifically German phenomenon. [5] Behind this is the fundamental problem of the difficult-to-reconcile functional logics of politics and science. "The politician expects political advice, but the advisor usually only wants to give policy advice - a conflict that is particularly felt in Germany." [6]




Could help establishments in which scientific experts work who, in addition to their expertise, are also characterized by an understanding of the logic of politics geared towards solving problems and maintaining / gaining power and who also have pronounced communicative skills and, ideally, knowledge of practical politics rather than primarily To complain about the fact that official politics does not always want to implement scientific recommendations or that the most politically appropriate and institutionally compatible ones are selected from the mostly contrary scientific recommendations? Such practice-oriented social or economic research institutes, for which the terms think tanks or "think tanks" have become established, are the focus of this article. How developed is the "think tank" culture in Germany compared to western countries - especially the USA and Great Britain - and what potential do the institutes operating in Germany have to act as political advisors? [7] The term think tank was created during of World War II in the USA. He described a tap-proof location (tank) where civil and military experts forged invasion plans and refined military strategies (think). It was only in the sixties and seventies that the term was used to label practice-oriented research institutions outside of security policy. Today the term "think tank" is used freely and is difficult to define. According to the author, think tanks are privately or publicly funded, practice-oriented research institutes that deal with scientifically sound policy-related and practice-relevant issues and, ideally, provide results and recommendations that prepare for decisions.