Think Tanks

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I find current affairs programs are always bringing on experts from think tanks. I got thinking about the term think tank and realized the two words just don’t go together very well. Think connotes an intellectual endeavor, tank on the other hand conjures up images of big metal or glass containers. Not to mention battle tanks.

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The two words are completely incongruous together. No matter, I digress, what are these think tanks?

A think tank, policy institute, or research institute is an organisation that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture. Most policy institutes are non-profit organisations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups, or businesses, or derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects.

One of the biggest Think Tanks in the world is RAND Corporation. RAND (“Research and development”) is an American nonprofit global policy think tank originally formed by Douglas Aircraft Company to offer research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces. It is financed by the U.S. government and private endowment,corporations,universities and private individuals. The organization has expanded to work with other governments, private foundations, international organizations, and commercial organizations on a host of non-defense issues, including healthcare. RAND aims for interdisciplinary and quantitative problem solving via translating theoretical concepts from formal economics and the physical sciences into novel applications in other areas, that is, via applied science and operations research.*

Headquarters in Santa Monica. Right off the beach, nice.

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RAND has approximately 1,700 employees. Its American locations include: Santa Monica, California (headquarters); Arlington, Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the San Francisco Bay Area; and Boston, Massachusetts. The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute has an office in New Orleans, Louisiana. RAND Europe is located in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and Brussels, Belgium. RAND Australia is located in Canberra, Australia.

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