Joining the Think Ranks

  • The past decade has spawned scores of organizations seeking to join veteran institutions such as Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute in influencing the national debate with studies, reports and seminars. Herewith some of the newer players, as well as a few of their predecessors:


    Heritage Foundation, Washington. The foremost of the new breed of advocacy tanks.

    Hoover Institution,

    Stanford. Founded in 1919, the granddaddy of conservative tanks. Its headquarters houses what may be the nation's most extensive East European and Soviet archives. Powerful in guiding Ronald Reagan toward the White House, but its influence has waned during his Administration.

    National Center for Policy Analysis, Dallas. Looks at health-care policy, entitlements and Social Security from a conservative perspective.

    Federalist Society, Washington. Part of the conservative legal network that in part is the offspring of the law-and-economics movement at the University of Chicago Law School. Provides contacts for "movement conservative" law students, professors and lawyers. Membership is considered a boost to appointive positions, including the federal bench. One of a number of headhunting advocacy tanks looking for the next generation of conservative leadership.

    Manhattan Institute, New York City. An important conservative publishing group. Supported Charles Murray's Losing Ground and George Gilder's Wealth and Poverty, both bibles of the movement conservatives.

    Leadership Institute, Washington. Essentially a training and job-referral service for movement conservatives.

    National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, Washington. Run by Robert L. Woodson, a black former social worker and previously a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Identifies self-help groups in the ghetto and inner city and helps link them -up with corporate funders and policymakers.

    Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Mich. The umbrella under which the Center for Constructive Alternatives and the Shavano Institute for National Leadership operate. C.C.A. sponsors four seminars a year on various conservative topics. Shavano focuses on free-market economics and "traditional values." Although small, Shavano is influential. In May 1985 in Washington it sponsored a high- profile conference on "Moral Equivalence" at which Jeane Kirkpatrick gave the keynote talk.

    Capital Research Center, Washington. Run by Willa Johnson, a seven-year Heritage veteran and former Reagan Administration personnel official. Focuses on matching corporate givers with appropriate advocacy tanks. A recent publication, The Second Front: Advancing Latin American Revolution in Washington, provides a hit list of left-of-center think tanks and legislators who oppose U.S. involvement in Latin America.



    Institute for Policy Studies, Washington. One of the biggest of the left-wing think tanks, and for years the most visible. I.P.S. grew up in the 1960s, and the 1980s have not been congenial to its anti-interventionist and environmentalist policies.

    Center for Defense Information, Washington. Analyzes data on military waste from a viewpoint critical of the defense buildup.

    Economic Policy Institute, Washington. Founded by five economists, including Jeff Faux, this think tank will develop alternatives to Reaganomics.

    World Policy Institute, New York City. Offers a global perspective on such issues as economics, health and security.

    Council on Economic Priorities, New York City. A small think tank that looks at budget issues and wasteful Pentagon spending.

    Center for National Policy, Washington. Set up by Democrats in 1981 in the face of the coming conservative onslaught. Closely allied with the Democratic Party, the center concentrates on broad economic policy, agricultural issues and options for the political process.