Think tanks.. Spread map and discipline matrix

Alhekma Center For Studies& Research And Consulting 

An analytical reading in the Pennsylvania University report for the classification of think tanks

Investigator Setup

Strategic Planning Unit


On the fact that the map of the spread of think tanks around the world is shaping future priorities, it is no longer universally accepted to deal with the future with reactive policies; The future needs to be ready to prepare an effective agenda for future studies, and the future should not be reduced by organizing one or more conferences under the name of “future challenges”, but should be liberated from the real outlook for the future. Learning from the world’s best think tanks effectively contributes to shaping the features and images of future scenarios.

Think tanks remain one of the most important institutions providing research, analysis and policy participation, and are organizations that prepare policy-oriented research, analysis and advice on domestic and international issues that enable policy makers and the public to make informed decisions on policy issues. Intellectual institutions may be affiliated with political parties, Governments, interest groups, private companies or independant non-governmental organizations.

These institutions are often a bridge between academic and policy-making communities, and serve the public interest as an independant voice that translates applied and basic research into a concept, reliable and accessible form for policy makers and the public.

In view of the important role of think tanks, many European and Arab indicators have been produced, which have assessed the think tanks in terms of efficiency and professionalism, and have adopted many criteria for this evaluation, but most of these indicators have not continued to evaluate because of significant challenges.

The first theme: indicators of think tanks in the World… International and Arab classifications

We will address some of the efforts made to classify think tanks globally, and we will focus on the University of Pennsylvania think-tanks Index; This is due to its importance, its most well-known and sustainable global consideration, as follows:

First: Classification of the Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development is a non-profit research center based in Washington, with a branch in London. The Center, established in 2001, focuses on international development, sustainable development and education issues, and is managed by a number of academics and politicians. The center issued its first evaluation of think tanks in 2015, which was launched in early 2013, and aims to provide a transparent and objective way to assess the impact of think tanks around the world. [1]

The index looks at the general profile in absolute terms, adjusts according to the size of the organizations’ budgets, and classifies research institutions into two groups: Think tanks in the United States and international think tanks for development in the United States and other countries, and the Center used a number of means to measure think tanks, including:

  • Citations in traditional and new media and the ability of think tanks and opinion organizations to attract public attention.
  • Research Center Profile indicators that include interaction on the Center’s social media page, Center official site visits, organization size and scientific quotations.
  • The size of the annual expenses of the Center and the age of the organization.

In this measure, the Katu Institute issues the budget-based classification of the International think tanks for Development, with a high score in both social media and online traffic fans, followed by the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), while the Center for Global Development ranked fourth.

Second: NIRA classification

The National Research Institute (INSER) is one of Japanese think tanks, seeking bold policy proposals and information to stimulate policy debate and contribute more effectively to policy-making. It is supposed to contain all the information about the most famous think tanks in each country of the world, where the names of the countries of the world and within each country contain the centers that are located in. [2]

However, considering the World Directory, we find that it has overlooked many centers in all countries of the world, for example, the Arab Republic of Egypt has – according to the University of Pennsylvania report in 2019 – 39 centers, but in the National Institute’s manual there are only 3. Although the United States of America had 1872, the INGC manual found only 88 centers, and did not mention the mechanisms or means on which it had chosen or collected information about the centers listed in its manual.

Third: Classification of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research

The Arab attempts to evaluate the thought centers in the world were totally absent, as the only attempt was made by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, and its first attempt was in 2019, as the Emirates Center depended on a number of criteria for arranging strategic studies centers on the Arab and international levels. The criteria on which it relied were divided into standards relating to the institution and others to the functions and activities of the research institution, the most prominent of that criteria are[3]:

  • The size of the budget and general resources and the proportion of those allocated to scientific research and training.
  • The institution’s ability to attract funding and attract grants for scientific research from public and private institutions.
  • Physical environment and office equipment in terms of space size, number of staff, variety of departments and capabilities.
  • The diversity of search fields and the number of researchers in the organization.
  • The number of awards the center has received and its search is local and international.
  • For the Arab World Research and Studies Centers, the Foundation should be headquartered in the Arab world and not be a branch of an international or foreign institution.

Although the classification is a serious step from an Arab center to prove capacity, it has not received the same attention and has not been expected to receive the University of Pennsylvania classification; This is for several reasons, the most important of which are:

  • The fact that the think tank is the one that releases the indicator and is supposed to be listed in the indicator, which does not achieve the neutral element in the approach.
  • The lack of comprehensiveness of the standards and practices through which the classification is carried out is therefore suggested that the index be separated from the center, which is issued by an Emirati university, and that coordination with the University of Pennsylvania may be carried out, and this may also be included through the Arab League as a platform leading the classification process.

Fourth: The Pennsylvania University Index

The University of Pennsylvania think tank classification is the most powerful and well known and informative classification of research centers around the world, launching its annual report in 2008, and collecting a database of think tanks around the world for use in evaluating think tanks around the world. The annual report of the University of Pennsylvania depends on several assessments, including the ranking of the best think tanks around the world, the ranking of the best think tanks in light of different disciplines, and the index also includes information about the number of centers in each continent and the number of centers in each country. Given the importance of that indicator, we will be able to make enough space by reading the indicator in detail by reviewing its rating criteria, and then a critical reading of it that includes its most important strengths and weaknesses.

1. Classification criteria

The University of Pennsylvania ranking of think tanks is the most powerful and well-known classification of research centers around the world, launching its annual report in 2008 based on a number of criteria for indicator setting, and implementing these standards a wide range of trainees in the “think tanks and Civil Society Program at the University of Pennsylvania” (TTCSP). These criteria are as follows: [4]

  • The quality and commitment of the think-Center leadership (Executive Chairman and Board of Directors) to the effective management and programs of the Research Center, the mobilization of financial and human resources to carry out tasks and the monitoring of the quality, independence and impact of the Research Center.
  • The quality and reputation of the Center’s staff, and the ability to bring together a wide range of highly skilled scientists and analysts, and recognized expertise and productivity as experts in their research.
  • Ability to recruit and retain selected scientists and analysts.
  • Academic performance and reputation, including academic rigor associated with research, including formal accreditation of the Center’s researchers and authors, the number and pattern of scientific publications produced such as books, journals and conference papers, and the number of presentations and interventions made by the Center’s researchers at scientific meetings and other professional meetings; The number and pattern of the questionnaires of the Center’s research in the scientific publications produced and the rest of the researchers.
  • Quality, number and rich of the Center’s publications and their accessibility.
  • The extent to which the research and programs of think-tank centers have affected policy makers and other policy-making actors, and the policy recommendations that have already been considered or adopted by policy makers, civil society or policy actors.
  • Good reputation with decision makers: Identifying the name associated with specific issues or programs within decision-making circles, number of summary statements and official appointments, number of political summaries and government reports (White papers), and legislative certificates delivered.
  • A clear commitment to the production of independant research and analysis, which involves specifications and policies for the production of rigorous, proof-based research and analysis, which are disseminated and monitored by an organization or research group or by individual researchers, which involves the detection of a conflicting interest (materially: Institutional and personal), non-aligned commitment and professional standards applied in social research.
  • Access to key institutions, access and communication with the public and key officials such as government officials (elected and appointed), civil society, traditional and new media, and academia.
  • The ability to persuade key policy makers, develop an effective network and companies with other research centers and political actors.
  • Gross output of the Center: Political proposals, web visits, instructions, publications, interviews, conferences, staff members nominated for official positions.
  • Use of research, policy proposals and other products, transition and effective use of political summaries, reports, policy recommendations and other products by decision makers and the policy community, number of current and former staff members performing advisory roles for decision makers, advisory committees, etc. Awards for researchers for their scientific achievements or public service.
  • To inform the Center’s information in public participation, consultative and community work – action (for example, claims for rights), preparation of legal legislation, certificates, academic papers or presentations, and conduct of teaching research as well.
  • Ability to use electronic means, printing, and new media to communicate with research and reach key audiences.
  • Media reputation: Media visibility, interviews, citations of the Center’s production.
  • Ability to use the Internet, including social media tools, to engage with journalists’ decision makers and the public.
  • Website presence and digital presence, quality, accessibility, efficient maintenance of existing enterprise Internet, link quality and digital animation: Quality, accessibility, web access, website number of visitors, page views, time to page, and likes recorded on page posts and followers as well.
  • The level of diversification and stability of funding includes the Organization’s ability to mobilize the necessary funding resources to support the continuity of the Research Center over time: Endowments, membership fees, annual contributions, government and private contracts, private income earned.
  • Effective management and allocation of financial and human resources, the capacity of the Research Center to manage its funds and staff effectively so that it produces high-quality outputs with maximum impact.
  • The Organization’s ability to effectively meet the gift, grant and contract terms of government (or government), individuals, companies and institutions providing financial support to the Center (financial supervision).
  • The Organization’s ability to produce new knowledge, to devise policy proposals or alternative ideas.
  • The ability to bridge the gap between academic and policy-making societies.
  • The ability to bridge the gap between policymakers and the public.
  • The ability to incorporate new voices into policy-making.
  • The Organization’s capacity to integrate it into the issues and policies networks.
  • Successfully challenge traditional knowledge (wisdom) to decision makers and generate innovative policy ideas and programs.
  • Impact on society this requires direct relationships between the Organization’s efforts in a specific area to make positive changes in the values of society, such as a major change in the quality of life within the country concerned: The quantity of goods and services available to citizens, physical, psychological and mental health, quality of the environment, quality of political rights, and access to institutions, affects the quality of political rights.

2. A critical reading in the University of Pennsylvania Index

The University of Pennsylvania Index is the most famous think tank assessment worldwide, which for many years has remained without real competition from assessments made by other centers, and although the index is well known, there are some limitations to some of the criteria on which it relied. The other, without clear competition from others who have been issuing such assessments, is stalled.

The first criticism of the index is that it is dominated by political orientation and bias toward the US think tanks, as well as in the way most of the US centers were approved and classified, which gave them a very big digital outlay, and the list of the best centers around the world was topped by it. In the 2019 report, the US Brookings Institution topped the Global think tanks as a center of global excellence; it topped The Global General ranking in the last 3 years, and this amendment was made by including centers of excellence in the report mechanism starting from the 2019 report that was not previously available. The Mechanism points out that the centers that have been ranked first in the last 3 years in each category and region will not be classified for the next 3 years and classified as centers of excellence.

In the 2018 report, the US Brookings Center ranked first in the list of best think tanks around the world, with US centers leading the best rankings in disciplines around the world in defense and national security centers, and centers specializing in politics, local economy, energy and resource policy. When one of the Japanese thought centers was first placed in the list of best centers specialized in education, America got second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh place.

The Pennsylvania Report 2017 was not very different from its previous bias toward the United States, with the US Brookings Center at the first level around the world as the best think tank, and also ranked first around the world in a number of different disciplines, including: National Defense and Security, Politics and Local Economy, Energy and Resource Policy, Foreign and International Policy, International Economy, and also the Best around the World in the Center for International Economics, Science, Technology and Social Policy, the Best in Government Centers, and the Top in making Profit and Best Research Studies around the World were one of the American Centers.

The absence of think tanks in Russia and China from advanced centers in classification is also a major imbalance; This is due to its prominent role in making the decision and offering reliable recommendations inside the ruling institutions in both countries, which resulted for example in the beginning of the deployment of China – which has more than one million military researchers – by holding maneuvers with countries in the Arab Gulf that were confined to the US presence only. The Russian return from afar to the Middle East region through the Syrian gate and its role as a president in any efforts to solve or settle the crisis.

One-point worth standing is the large number of centers listed in the index, and is it enough for only one year to evaluate the performance of 8248 centers a year? That is, during the day only, about 23 centers live! In addition to the absence of a research portal for the University of Pennsylvania, researchers can learn about the efforts of research centers that are in a high position in the classification.

In view of the Middle East, Iranian centers are absent from any advanced centers except two, and in centers classified as backward and advanced, Iran is one of the most successful regional powers in achieving its goals by creating loyal entities or even military arms and militias. In addition to its ability to circumvize and negotiate the nuclear agreement, Iran relies on four main research centers that provide the regime with political advice and recommendations, and on which it moves to achieve its expansionist goals in the Middle East, escalate the nuclear file crisis or even manage the internal crises it faces from time to time. The most important of these are the “Presidential Center for Strategic Studies”, which meets not a few of the standards of the Pennsylvania classification, especially concerning holding conferences and hosting political experts from abroad, and there is also the “Institute of political and International Studies” in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is the most prominent reference on which the Iranian regime depends, especially in times of crisis. The institute issues political periodicals and magazines addressing the external Nations, including Arabic, as well as Russian and French versions.

On the geographical division of regions, the report divided the world into multiple geographical regions, and sometimes the classification was not based on the geographical divisions agreed upon in all other global indicators, with the index classifying Russia as a State within the territory of Europe, and it was fair to be with the continent of Asia in which geography is located. The classification also considered the branches of external centers outside the borders of the home country as independent centers, for example, Carnegie and Brookings, located in America, classified their external branches as regions such as the Middle East, such as Brookings Doha Institute, and Carnegie Middle East in Beirut. This gives evidence of unfair classification.

There are also some flaws in the same standards on which the Pennsylvania University Index relies for evaluation, including:

  • In terms of the quality and reputation of think tank staff and the ability to gather a wide range of scientists and analysts, how does this standard apply to researchers from more than 8,000 think tanks around the world each year?
  • Academic performance and publications such as books, periodicals, journals and research, however, are very late in the classification, such as the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Studies Institute, which produces publications in several languages: Persian, Arabic, English and Russian.
  • With regard to the impact of research and programs on policy makers and other actors, as well as reputation among policy makers, access to key institutions and interaction with the public and employees; We find that there are reports, position estimates or highly classified studies that the public cannot see, how can Pennsylvania University see the product of more than 8,000 think centers around the world about this?!
  • On the ability to use electronic media, this standard is a lot of centers, as the research media knows well that the centers that publish their research findings online are barely 20% of their research content.
  • As for the Center’s reputation in the media, does the University of Pennsylvania rely on monitoring centers, media appearances, interviews or quotations, or merely on the information sent to it by think tanks around the world? Media visibility is often depend on the extent of the Center’s relations with the media rather than on the quality of the research product, in both cases a malfunction.
  • As to the level of funding of the centers, there were think-points funded from unknown actors, on what basis would they be classified? Or are they classified according to the declared sources of finance, and there are a number of think tanks around the world receiving targeted funding to provide their financiers with intelligence-like reports about the countries in which they operate, so focus should be on the quality of the funding that think tanks get around the world. Especially with the spread of suspected sources of financing for terrorism and money laundering.
  • For the effective management standard, does the University receive the internal regulations of think tanks, or evaluate it based on research content? In both cases, it is a flaw that Pennsylvania cannot assess more than 8,000 think centers around the world at this point in just one year.
  • With regard to the ability to bridge the gap between policy makers and the public, the main centers in doing so are Russian and Chinese, whose classification is politically oriented. It is not only about defense and security but also about the need to stabilize the social situation by reporting, surveys and studies to decision makers in both countries to ensure that there are no threats from the internal front.
  • With regard to the impact on society, how does the report know how the think tanks are influencing society? Does the university conduct survey, research and surveys on the ground around the world to measure this, or based on the numbers issued by the centers in different countries?
  • The report did not mention the relative weights of each of the criteria on which it relied in the assessment.
  • The index did not provide a structured code that defined the assumed minimum number of human cadres, periodicals or conferences for think tanks or units with the terms of the work of each center.

Second: The global spread of research centers. Reading in indicators and indications

In this theme we will look at a detailed reading of the map of the spread of think tanks around the world by addressing the coordinates of the distribution of think tanks in the last 3 years, according to the University of Pennsylvania report, Figure 1 shows the map of the global spread of think tanks in 2019.

Figure 1: Map of the Global think tanks deployment 2019[5]

Figure 2 represents the best centers map according to geographical scope, as Belgian Brugell center tops European thought centers classification, while US Brookings Institute tops thought centers classification in North America, Korean Development Institute leads Asia region, and Brazilian Gerlo Fargas center heads thought centers in Central and South America. The Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BICADI) is the think tank in sub-Saharan Africa and has finally dissolved the Jordanian Strategic Studies Center at the head of think tanks in the Middle East and North Africa.

Figure 2: Map of best centers by regional scope[6]

In the next section, we will explain and illustrate the spread of think tanks around the world, according to the University of Pennsylvania report 2017, 2018, 2019, according to the geographical region, as follows:

First: Europe. The Richest deployment map

Europe has the world’s most advanced think tanks, with many places on top of the list of best think tanks around the world, and the number of think tanks in Europe is often increasing. In 2017, the number of think tanks was close to 2045, increasing in 2018 to close to 2,219, the number of centers in 2019 was fixed at the same number in 2018, and the think tanks were down only in two countries: Belgium, down from 61 in 2017 to 60 in 2018, and set the same number in 2019, and Iceland fell from 9 in 2017 to 8 in 2018.

The United Kingdom occupied the lead of countries inside the continent with 321 centers, followed by Germany with 218, Russia with 215 and France with 203, the least countries within the continent in the number of thought centers are the Vatican, where it has only one position, and Belgium’s Brugell center was the top regional ranking in Europe. Table 1 monitors a comparison of the number of think tanks in the continent of Europe in 2017-2019.

Table 1: Comparison of the number of think tanks in the continent of Europe in 2017-2019[7]

Country 2017 2018 2019
United Kingdom 311 321 321
Germany 214 218 218
Russia 103 215 215
France 197 203 203
Italy 103 114 114
Sweden 89 90 90
Netherlands 76 83 83
Switzerland 76 78 78
Austria 68 74 74
Spain 63 66 66
Belgium 61 60 60
Poland 60 60 60
Romania 54 54 54
Denmark 51 51 51
Hungary 43 46 46
Greece 41 46 46
Bulgaria 41 44 44
Ukraine 39 39 39
Finland (Western Europe) 29 29 29
Czech 27 27 27
Slovakia 27 27 27
Portugal 23 25 25
Norway 22 22 22
Belarus 21 22 22
Lithuania 19 22 22
Macedonia 18 21 21
Estonia 20 20 20
Finland (Eastern Europe) 17 18 18
Ireland 16 16 16
Albania 15 15 15
Serbia 14 14 14
Bosnia and Herzegovina 13 13 13
Latvia 11 11 11
Croatia 11 11 11
Moldova 9 9 9
Iceland 9 8 8
Luxembourg 8 8 8
Slovenia 6 6 6
Malta 4 4 4
Kosovo 4 4 4
Androa 2 2 2
Liechtenstein 2 2 2
Monaco 2 2 2
Vatican 1 1 1

the order listed in the table is top-down according to the number of centers in 2019 in each count

Second: North America. The United States of America and regional hegemony

The three countries in North America have a big number of think tanks that witnessed stability in the number of centers in recent years, in addition to the fact that these countries are in the best position around the world, and the United States is the biggest country in North America and the world in the number of thought centers. With 1872 centers, there was no increase in the number of centers in 2018 or 2019, while Canada ranked second within the continent, with 100, and remained unchanged since 2017, while Mexico was the only country to increase its number of positions. In 2017, 72 centers were 86, and the think-tanks in these countries play an important role in decision-making, and the US Brookings Center is at the forefront of the North American regional arrangement as well as the top of the think tanks worldwide.

Table 2: Comparison of the number of think tanks in North America in 2017-2019[8]

Country 2017 2018 2019
United States of America 1872 1872 1872
Canada 100 100 100
Mexico 74 86 86

Third: Asia. Rising power centers

India is the third continent in the world in the ranking in terms of the spread of thought centers in 1829, an increase of 153 centers over its classification last year, and India is the biggest country in the continent in the number of thought centers, where it possesses 509 centers, while China was ranked second inside the continent, with 507 research centers. Japan ranked a third with 128 positions that played an active, strong and influential role in Japanese decision-making, and the Korean Development Institute topped the Asia-Pacific regional ranking for 2019. By contrast, the continent’s lowest number of think tanks were Samo, Vanuatu, and East Timor, with one center for each, and of the 37 countries within the continent, the two friendly countries that experienced a shortage of centers in 2018 from the previous year were China and Bangladesh

Table 3: Comparison of the number of think tanks in Asia in 2017-2019 [9]

Country 2017 2018 2019
India 444 509 509
China 512 507 507
Japan 116 128 128
Taiwan 58 61 61
South Korea 53 60 60
Hong Kong 36 42 42
Australia 39 42 42
Bangladesh 38 36 36
Georgia 26 35 35
Sri Lanka 32 32 32
Indonesia 26 31 31
Kazakhstan 28 31 31
Armenian 17 30 30
Kyrgyzstan 27 28 28
Pakistan 25 25 25
Malaysia 19 23 23
Afghanistan 22 22 22
Philippines 21 21 21
Singapore 12 18 18
Edribigan 15 16 16
Thailand 11 15 15
Cambodia 14 14 14
Nepal 13 13 13
Uzbekistan 12 12 12
New Zealand 9 11 11
Vietnam 10 11 11
Mongolia 7 10 10
Brunei 7 8 8
Tajikistan 7 7 7
Maldives 6 6 6
Fiji 3 4 4
Laos 4 4 4
Bhutan 3 3 3
North Korea 2 2 2
Papua New Guinea 2 2 2
Samoa 1 1 1
East Timor 1 1 1
Vanuatu 1 1 1

Fourth: South and Central America. Latin think tanks

Argentina tops the scene in South and Central America with 227 centers, and Brazil’s Fondisau Vargas topped the regional ranking of South and Central America, and Latin and Central America has seen an increase in the number of centers except Puerto Rico, where the number has decreased by one place from 2017. Mexico, Brazil and Argentina have been at the forefront of countries where the number of centers has increased by 12 for Mexico, 10 for Brazil and 2 for Argentina.

Table 4: Comparison of think tanks in South and Central America in 2017-2019[10]

Country 2017 2018 2019
Argentina 225 227 227
Brazil 93 103 103
Bolivia 66 66 66
Chile 63 64 64
Colombia 55 64 64
Peru 42 43 43
Costa Rica 41 42 42
Dominican Republic 36 40 40
Paraguay 33 33 33
Ecuador 29 29 29
Cuba 24 25 25
Uruguay 24 25 25
Guatemala 20 22 22
Venezuela 21 22 22
Nicaragua 14 15 15
El Salvador 14 14 14
Panama 13 14 14
Trinidad and Tobago 13 13 13
Honduras 12 12 12
Barbados 10 10 10
Jamaica 7 7 7
Antigua and Barbuda 6 6 6
Belize 5 5 5
Guadeloupe 5 5 5
Puerto Rico 6 5 5
Guyana 4 4 4
Bahamas 3 3 3
Bermuda 3 3 3
Dominica 3 3 3
Haiti 2 3 3
Saint Lucia 3 3 3
Suriname 3 3 3
Martinique 2 2 2
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2 2 2
Grenada 1 1 1
Montserrat 1 1 1
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1 1 1


5-  sub-Saharan Africa region… Think tanks and decreasing role

Sub-Saharan Africa has not seen any increase in the number of centers, but has experienced a marked decrease in the countries of the Sahel and the Sahara, such as Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, where the centers of thought have sharply decreased. In Niger, for example, which had 19 2017-ranked centers, only 4 in 2018-2019 were in the same position as Mali, which had 14 positions and then 11, and Burkina Faso had decreased from 21 to 15, with Chad and Mauritania having a steady number. This has resulted in the increasing geographical expansion of terrorist organizations, especially with the state of weakness that those countries suffer militarily, except for the Chadian army, the most ready and strong. From table 5, no country in the region has seen a significant increase in the number of think tanks in the last 3 years, but the number of centers in 14 African countries out of 44 listed countries has declined. The number of centers in the three years has been established in 30 countries within the region.

Table 5: Comparison of think tanks in sub-Saharan Africa in 2017-2019 [11]

Country 2017 2018 2019
South Africa 92 92 92
Kenya 57 56 56
Nigeria 52 51 51
Ghana 40 38 38
Uganda 32 32 32
Ethiopia 26 26 26
Zimbabwe 28 26 26
Cameroon 22 22 22
Tanzania 18 18 18
Benin 18 17 17
Senegal 22 17 17
Burkina Faso 21 16 16
Namibia 16 16 16
Malawi 15 15 15
Zambia 14 14 14
Botswana 13 13 13
Ivory Coast 19 13 13
Mali 14 11 11
Mauritius 10 10 10
Democratic Congo 8 8 8
Mauritania 8 8 8
Rwanda 8 8 8
Sudan 8 8 8
Gambia 6 6 6
Somalia 6 6 6
Eritrea 5 5 5
Mozambique 5 5 5
Swaziland 5 5 5
Togo 9 5 5
Angola 4 4 4
Burundi 4 4 4
Lesotho 4 4 4
Liberia 4 4 4
Madagascar 5 4 4
Niger 19 4 4
Seychelles 4 4 4
Chad 3 3 3
Congo 3 3 3
Cape Verde 3 2 2
Central Africa 2 2 2
Gabon 2 2 2
Guinea 2 2 2
Sierra Leone 4 2 2
Guinea-Bissau 1 1 1

Sixth: Middle East and North Africa region. The growing role of think tanks

The number of think tanks in the MENA region increased significantly in 2018-2019 compared to the 2017 classification, the most important of which was in Jordan with 22 centers, then the UAE with 6 centers, then Turkey, the Israeli occupation and Iraq with two centers, other than just one. Arab countries did not rank the top 3 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, where Israeli occupation tops the regional arrangement of the region countries with 69 centers, followed by Iran with 64 centers, Turkey with 48 centers, and Arab Republic of Egypt came first in the fourth position with 39 centers. The two countries of Amman and Libya came at the top of the ranking with three centers each, and the Jordanian Strategic Studies Center issues the regional centers for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Table 6: Comparison of think tanks in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2017-2019 () [12]

Country 2017 2018 2019
Israeli occupation 67 69 69
Iran 64 64 64
Turkey 46 48 48
Egypt 39 39 39
Palestine 34 36 36
Iraq 30 32 32
Jordan 26 28 28
Lebanon 27 28 28
Yemen 26 27 27
Tunisia 20 21 21
Kuwait 15 16 16
Morocco 14 15 15
Qatar 14 15 15
Emirates 9 15 15
Bahrain 12 13 13
Saudi Arabia 8 10 10
Syria 10 10 10
Algeria 8 9 9
Cyprus 6 6 6
Libya 2 3 3
Oman 3 3 3

Third theme: A matrix of disciplines. Signs of spreading and centralization

In this area we will address the intersection of the distribution of think tanks according to disciplines and the geographical sector while the discipline matrix is regional, then the discipline matrix according to the country scope, the interpretation of the concentration of disciplines in each region and Qatar as it will appear in the following section, figure 3 represents the map of the best think centers according to specialization. The United States centers have been at the top of the ranking in seven disciplines: Domestic economic policies, international economy, social sciences, resource and energy policies, international affairs and foreign policy, science and technology, national security and defense, while a United Kingdom center is in the forefront of local and international health affairs. Sweden, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea and China topped the same specialization. Although India has a very large number of centers, it estimated that about 509 centers came in the second position in the list of the biggest countries owned the think tanks behind the United States leading the list of the ranking – but the Indian centers did not appear in the top of the order of any specialization. China, which has 507 positions, has ranked third in the general arrangement, but has only one specialization, water security.

Figure 3: Map of best think tanks according to specialization

In the next part of the study we will examine a presentation and analysis of the discipline matrix and its implications in two areas, first regional and then country-specific terms, as follows:

First: A matrix of regional disciplines and implications

Table (7) Regional discipline Matrix (matching best disciplines to geographical regions)[13]



Defense and national security Foreign policy and international affairs International economic policies Domestic economic policies International development Energy and resources Education policy Environmental policy Local health affairs Global health Science and Technology Transparency and good governance Social sciences Food security Water security
Europe 46 63 33 53 49 17 39 32 10 5 17 27 29 31 16
North America 26 32 20 27 27 20 16 21 25 16 24 18 29 35 26
Asia 23 38 20 33 34 17 12 28 18 7 19 15 23 22 17
Latin America 4 6 8 14 14 3 9 1 1 5 6 16 6 4
Sub-Saharan Africa 1 4 2 13 6 2 2 6 5 2 5 2 9 31 15
Middle East and North Africa 10 13 2 4 1 4 2 3 1 1 2 2 11

Of the top positions in the University of Pennsylvania report

Specialization with the largest number within the geographical region

Specialization with the lowest number within the geographical region

1. indications of Specializations matrix in Europe

Figure 4: The discipline Matrix of the Continental Europe

The specialization of international politics and foreign affairs as the most important specialization in the continent of Europe is more prominent than the other fields, which made it become the advanced centers in foreign policy disciplines, and the European countries use these centers in a number of files, such as the refugee crisis that Turkey uses to blackmail Europe. This led a country like Germany to benefit from the huge Syrian human resources that it hosted in parallel with the necessity of activating the precautionary security measures for fear of extremist elements’ infiltration with the huge numbers of refugees, and considering the UK role, think tanks contributed greatly to settling the controversy in Brest crisis. In addition, in an attempt to redevelop relations with America and to coordinate the increasing security regarding the region’s crises, which are always volatile in the Middle East.

Europe topped the general arrangement in five disciplines, namely: Governance and transparency, led by a German center, food security, exported by a French center, environment and exported by a Swedish center, local health and global health, and exported by a British center.

Europe also stands out in the conferences on security and defense, a step through which the old continent seeks to seize the opportunity to restore global leadership without a clash with America by leaving the stage for Asia’s drive toward leadership, and then starting to establish European control based on the most dangerous and important threats to global security and stability.

The world health specialization was the least specialized in the old continent, followed by the local health specialization, mainly because of the continent’s high health services, high rates of ages and largely free of epidemics, so that it is not a big crisis for the region.

2. indications of Specializations matrix in North America

Figure 5: The discipline Matrix of North America

North America is generally concerned with the food security field, which has been the largest number of centers in total 35. This is in line with the trend of the continent, especially the United States, which increased the volume of selling high-quality crops sold by American farmers to the rest of the world in more quantities than ever before in the history of American agriculture. American farmers are producing crops at levels that could have been surprising to the world a few years ago, and it is worth mentioning that the United States, the world’s largest food and agricultural exporter, exported agricultural products worth more than $139.5 billion in 2018. [14]Agricultural exports are supported by more than one million US jobs in agriculture and livestock raising, as well as jobs and jobs in crop processing, packaging and transportation, and by 2050 global demand for food is expected to increase by 60%. To meet this challenge, the US is devising new agricultural practices, building new markets, and removing unfair trade barriers, reflected in the number of centers that specialize in food security.

The main disciplines in the region include international policy and foreign affairs, as well as national defense and security, which is confirmed by the number of centers that have received advanced positions, either in the general classification or even in the classification by specialization. This means that the think tanks serve America’s strategic direction in order to consolidate its interests around the world, as well as to focus on the security field to keep up with the most prominent strategic competitors (Russia and China) and to guarantee their superiority. America’s interest in these disciplines also reflects the state’s tendency to expand the production of weapons and defense industries, and to deploy internationally, and to adopt a different policy with successive administrations of the White House.

The US centers topped 7 of 15 specializations, i.e. the US centers led about half the specializations, topped by US centers in: national security and defense, international affairs and foreign policy, local economy, world economy, science and technology, social sciences, resources and energy.

3. indications of Specializations matrix in Asia

Figure 6: The discipline Matrix of Asia

The specialization of international policy and foreign affairs took the highest ranking in Asia, which clearly reflects the crowding of Asian leaders toward the world leadership recently for America and Europe. More than one Asian pole, with the expectation that the world great powers map would change soon, amid the increasing role of China and India, and behind them Japan and South Korea, to reshape the map of world powers centers. In table 7, the disciplines of the region’s interest in a large proportion after international policy were concentrated in international development in 34 centers, followed by the domestic economy in 33, which shows the extent to which most countries in the region are interested in economic development; The two countries, China and Japan, are the most prominent trading powers, which explains the feverish race and strategic competition between them to guarantee the greatest possible control on both the ASEAN countries and the rest of the continent and the world.

Asian centers were ranked first in three disciplines, first was water security, issued by a Chinese center, second was education, issued by a Japanese center, and third was international development, and topped by a South Korean center.

India is one of the strongest powers in Asia and the active and influential member in “BRICS” is the biggest country in the continent in the number of thought centers, where it possesses 509 centers through which it used cultural diplomacy to spread around the world through a series of measures recommended by research centers. It also calms the conflict over Tibet with China’s second-largest neighbor, 507, to record Beijing down from 2017, when it had 512 centers in Pennsylvania. This does not mean a shortage of Chinese research sector as much as China’s quest for its own generation by relying on a large number of human cadres, which China’s actions have proved to be effective, especially after the success of its economic penetration strategy and the control of vital joints in the global economy as well as the Silk Road initiative. In addition, the Chinese military deployment outside the Chinese territories started for the first time, as it is found in military bases in Africa and participating in naval maneuvers in the Arab Gulf region. In addition, China holds regular research conferences every two years, during which it hosts several research centers around the world to discuss ways of developing its trade and economic relations with different geographical blocs.

Japan came third with 128 centers that have an effective, strong and effective role in Japanese decision-making, and this is clearly reflected in the series of strategic partnerships adopted by successive Japanese governments with India and Australia, as well as the start of spreading through cultural diplomacy to compete with Korea and China. The Japanese think tanks also contribute to providing decision makers and public opinion with the measures to be taken to counter China’s sweeping superiority, as well as to manage the Corell Islands crisis with Russia; This means that the think tanks of Asia serve the strategic direction of countries, especially China, India, and Japan, which contribute to strengthening decision-making with regard to their strategic vision, and thus to a state of readiness for the movement of world leadership from the West to the East “China.”

4. indications of Specializations matrix in Latin America

Figure 7: The discipline Matrix of Latin America

The social sciences specialization is topped the scene in Latin America with 16 centers, and it is known that the social sciences are the group of sciences that cares about the social aspect of human societies, whatever their angles or approaches may differ in studying that person and in relation to another, group, state, or institution, namely: The region is also a region where its poor live in extreme poverty. Despite the fact that many of its political systems have a socialist background, and child mortality and malnutrition rates in rural areas and poor people’s neighborhoods are very similar to those in the poorest countries, the region where income distribution is at the highest levels, This means that the poor have a smaller proportion of the total national income than the poor in other regions; As a result, poverty rates in Latin America are consistently higher than those projected compared to other comparable middle-income countries. [15]

Think tanks dealing with local economy and international development came in the second and third positions, which shows the interest of Latin countries in think tanks specialized in economic development, which explains the aspirations of a country like Brazil to be a member in the BRICS. Argentina and Chile are also continuing to try to avoid economic disasters that could hit the country and push it toward a wave of unrest.

The think tanks in Latin America also perform a number of functions, such as political support for political systems, the preparation of expert cadres from policy makers and politicians and the use of expert teams to form part of new governments, which has further strengthened the close relationship between both groups; As a result, in Latin America, a strong relationship can be linked between the political power of the regime and the existence of modern and effective intellectual institutions. In Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, with more sophisticated systems, think tanks are well-funded and effectively organized to address their context and strengthen the relationship between knowledge and politics.

5. indications of Specializations matrix in sub-Saharan Africa

Figure 8: A discipline matrix in sub-Saharan Africa

The food security department heads the scene in sub-Saharan Africa with 31 centers, followed by 15 water security centers, which reflect the great control of the water and food security specialists on the map of African thought, as the continent faces many challenges, as the black Africa has many contradictions and contradictions. It is the richest in terms of resources, but the vast majority of its people are poor and hungry, and it boasts all the kinds of natural resources that have made the whole world wrestle on, but very poor with the water resources that are the most important human needs.

Climate change and the increase in the continent’s desertification areas also increase the need to intensify efforts to research water and food security and agriculture in Africa in order to increase the capacity to adapt to climate change. The most prominent model referred to here is Lake Chad, one of Africa’s largest lakes and the sixth largest lake in the world, which has decreased in the last years due to poor agricultural and pastoral practices, where its area in the 1960s was 25 thousand square kilometers of water. Today, 90% of its water is lost because of drought, desertification and lack of governmental water management, Kenya lost more than 3 billion dollars in the first decade of the 21st century because of drought, and South Africa imposes its citizens not to exceed 20 liters of water usage daily. Some 40% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population does not have access to safe water supplies, and in 13 countries, 9 of which are in Africa, citizens live on an average of less than 10 liters per person per day. [16]

Water shortages in Africa affect its most important productive activities, namely, agriculture, which is of great importance to the continent; It represents about 35% of the total output, represents 40 exports, and absorbs 70% of employment opportunities, and according to UN reports, Africa is expected to lose two thirds of its arable land by 2025. The drought is currently causing the loss of more than 3% per year of total national income from agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. [17]

All of these challenges pose a need for research and innovation in water and food security, which may have led many think tanks on the continent to intensify their efforts in this area.

The region’s lowest specialization in defense and national security came in one position only, and this shows that the concepts of defense and national security largely absent the African strategic mind, which made it a prey to terrorism and a victim of plunder of wealth, as the black continent became a place for strategic competition to guarantee control and influence using different means.

The Sahel and Sahara region, which includes countries such as Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, witnessed a noticeable decrease in the number of centers in total between 2017 and 2019. Burkina Faso decreased from 21 to 15, and the geographical expansion of terrorist organizations increased, especially with the weakness of those countries militarily, except for the Chadian army, the most ready and strong, which made it a dangerous focus that may turn the whole continent into a hell if terrorism is not fought there. It is also a belt-making region that encloses the Arab countries in North Africa.

The situation was no better in the Horn of Africa region, where the situation has not stabilized since the US Operation Black Hawk in 1994 in Somalia, and its consequences on the neighboring countries after the emergence of anti-American movements. This is accompanied by the emergence of extremism within the continent, which has become a real threat to the southern entry of the Red Sea and to Kenya, the important economic center in Africa, where the terrorist youth movement in Somalia is active with the occasional and deadly attacks on civilians and soldiers inside and outside Somalia as it seeks to strain the Ethiopian and Kenyan military presence. The Movement also implements an agenda aimed at the disintegration of Somalia as a central state into independent federal cantons with the support of regional and international forces.

6. indications of Specializations matrix in the Middle East and North Africa

Figure 9: A matrix of disciplines in the Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East Studies Centers are concerned with foreign policy, international affairs (13 centers), food security (11 centers), defense and national security (10 centers), which clearly demonstrates the interest of the Middle East strategic mind in the political and security aspects; The International Institute for Iranian Studies and Monitoring (Saudi Arabia) issues the regional centers in this specialization, and it ranked 31 international. Turkey, the biggest country in the region, came to the thought centers concerned with this specialization with 5 centers, then the Israeli occupation with 3 centers, then Jordan and Saudi Arabia with two centers each, then Egypt with one center.

As for the specialization of defense and national security, the National Security Studies Institute of the Zionist entity headed the regional centers in specialization, Al-Ahram Center for political and Strategic Studies came at the top of the Arab centers in specialization in the 32 order, and Turkey, as the biggest country in the region, came in the place of the thought centers concerned with this specialization in 4 centers. Jordan and the Zionist entity then have two centers each, then Egypt and Lebanon with one center each.

The previous presentation shows that the center specialized in foreign policy, international affairs, defense and national security was distributed among the main powers in the region, but the Iranian centers were totally absent despite the Iranian regime’s interest in these fields. This can be attributed to the nature of Iranian centers that are mostly close to or engaged in the ruling authority or through the establishment of centers in Arab countries that serve the direction and objectives of the centers operating in Iran, which makes their work serve the strategic objectives of the country and not declared. It is difficult to classify them well.

The Middle East is the center of the world, where the world has been led by history, except in the last century, where the world has led forces from the region, so the spread of research centers has many indications, the most important of which is the regional powers’ efforts to study competitors, how to expand, extend, and discuss the penetration mechanisms. In the region, Egypt, Iran and Turkey were the three forces that turned to the leadership until the emergence of the “Zionist occupation” and devoted its scientific research efforts to study the weaknesses and the problems of the most important power, Egypt.

The region has no specialized center in these two disciplines, which clearly demonstrates the region’s fluctuation and decline in international indicators of transparency and integrity. The Middle East and North Africa countries need to provide sustainable water sources and water shortages, and the region’s research centers did not appear on the best specialization list, which indicates the extent of the great lack of research interests and trends in the Middle East.

The Arab presence in the classification was first shown in an advanced center within this list, embodied in the Emirates Center for Strategic policies, which is held periodically “Abu Dhabi Strategic Forum”, as well as seminars and symposiums on regional and international issues, especially in light of the growing Iranian and Turkish threats to the Arab world. The risks of regional expansions by Turkey and Iran in Arab and continents in a number of regions to create new spheres of influence.

Second: Matrix of country disciplines and implications

In this section we will address the Qatar specialization matrix, by matching the best disciplines with the highest countries in the thought centers, and adding 4 countries from the top 20 countries worldwide, Egypt, Israeli occupation, Turkey and Iran; As the most-held country for thought centers in the Middle East region.

Table 8: Country discipline matrix (matching best disciplines with highest ownership of think tanks)[18]



Defense and national security Foreign policy and international affairs International economic policies Domestic economic policies International development Energy and resources Education policy Environmental policy Local health affairs Global health affairs Science and Technology Transparency and good governance Social sciences Food security Water security
America 23 30 16 22 23 15 16 16 21 13 20 15 24 29 22
India 5 7 5 7 5 4 2 9 6 1 7 5 8 4 4
China 2 6 4 9 7 2 1 4 6 2 4 1 3 2 3
United Kingdom 5 6 4 7 6 5 3 8 4 3 5 7 9 10 6
Argentina 2 2 2 2 3 1 2 1 1 3
Germany 4 6 3 7 7 6 7 1 3 2 4 1
Russia 5 6 3 6 3 1 1 3 3
France 5 4 4 2 4 1 1 1 1 1 4
Japan 3 3 3 2 6 3 1 6 1 1 5
Italy 2 3 1 1 1 1 4 1 1 2 5
Brazil 2 2 3 4 3 2 1 1 4 1
Canada 3 2 3 3 3 4 4 2 2 3 1 4 4 2
South Africa 2 2 1 2 4 3 6
Sweden 2 2 2 2 4 1 2 1 2 1 2
Mexico 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 2
Netherlands 3 3 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 2 4
Switzerland 2 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 2
Austria 2 2 3 1 1 1
Israeli occupation 2 3 1 2 2 1 1 2
Iran 1 3
Turkey 4 5 1 1 1 2 1 1
Egypt 1 1 1 1

Of the total list of best centers according to disciplines in the report of the University of Pennsylvania

Specialization with the largest number within the country

Specialization with the lowest number within the country

From table 8, it is clear to us how large the figures in the first row of the United States table are compared to the rest of the figures in the table, which reflects beyond doubt the extent of American interest in think tanks at all levels and in all disciplines. Studies of think tanks and opinion institutions in the United States of America receive special attention; Because it is based on different ideas and theories that affect one way or another in the foreign policy of the United States, and the events of September 2001 confirmed the increasing importance of the role played by academic institutions in this field. These institutions have emerged from calls for making the US government’s work an institutional act of professionalism and in accordance with the events of political and economic theories, which generate a number of benefits for American policymakers, most importantly, adding new thinking to American policy makers and providing government and congressional experts. The policy maker provides experts to find a common understanding on different political choices, educate the American citizen about the world, and provide the possibility that a third team will mediate between two disputable parties.

Think tanks also played an important role in the era of former US President George Bush in his administration with a number of figures, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from Washington’s research centers for studies, and many others from President Bush’s administration who were working in the centers of American studies and thought. Former US President Barack Obama also used one of the US think tanks in one of the important issues on the level of international relations, namely the Iranian file and the mechanisms and conditions of negotiation with Iran, to solve a problem that has been raised for many years. The American, with Egyptian origins, appointed Dalia Mogahed, director of the Center of Calob for Islamic Studies, his advisor for religious affairs, and it can be said that the research centers in the United States of America are preparing a back door for political decision-making there. In addition to running election campaigns for candidates for the US president position, it indicates that there are close thought centers for managing election campaigns in the future.

In the following section we will show the 15 disciplines according to the matrix shown in Table 8, as follows:

  1. National Defense and Security: The ranking of the best centers for defense and national security included 111 around the world, the largest of which was acquired by the United States at the country level as reflected in the country disciplinary matrix, with 23 of the 111 listed centers listed in the classification. This indicates the great US interest in the field of national security and defense, and the US Center for Strategic and International Studies came as a center of excellence for the specialization of national security and defense, as it was the top position for the last 3 years, and the Arab countries did not care enough about this specialization, and only 4 centers were on the list. One of them in Egypt came in 32nd place, two in Jordan in 54th and 88th, and another in Lebanon in 72nd place.
  2. Foreign policy and international affairs: The United States topped the list of specialized centers in foreign policy and international affairs, where it got 30 out of the list of best centers in specialization that included 156 centers, and India came again behind it with 7 centers. This shows the great gap between the US interest in foreign policy, international affairs and the rest of the world, as this specialization is considered the highest among all disciplines in the United States and even the biggest one for thought centers in any country at all, as shown in table 8. The Brookings Institution of America was at the top of the list of centers specializing in foreign policy and international affairs, and the Arab countries have four centers in this category; One is Egypt in the 35th place, the other is Jordan in the 37th place, Saudi Arabia in the 77th place and the United Arab Emirates in the 103rd place.
  3. International economic policies: The arrangement of the best specialized centers in this regard and the emergence of countries from different regions, including the United States, India, China, the United Kingdom and France, the United States came at the top of the ranking with a total of 16 positions and India with 5 positions behind it. Despite China’s orientation toward the international economy, it has only 4 of the total list of the best centers in specialization that included 87 centers, and it has no place among the top 10 centers. The top classification for this specialization was the Peterson Institute for International Economy, an American center, and the Arab thought centers were totally absent from that specialization, which shows the great failure of the Arab countries to head for the international economy.
  4. Domestic economic policies: The United States has first and second place in the list of best centers, it has got 6 of the top 10 centers around the world, and the US Brookings Center was a center of excellence for the specialization of local economic policies, as it was the top place in the ranking for the last 3 years. The US centers have got 22 centers in the list of best centers in specialization, in which 145 centers are located in all over the world, and China came in the second position with 9 centers, which are very significant because the two countries are actually the biggest economies in the world. It makes sense for centers in both countries to compete in that specialization, and, despite the low number of Chinese centers compared to those in America, but they remain the closest competitors to American positions, and the Arab countries have only one position on this list, the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies, ranked 49.
  5. International Development: First place in this specialization was the South Korean Development Institute, and as usual the American centers controlled the lion’s share of these centers, where 23 were in the list of best centers in that specialization that included 132 centers, and 4 of the best 10. China and Germany came in the second position with 7 centers each, and the Arab centers were absent from the list of best centers in the international development that includes 132 centers.
  6. Energy and resources: The Baker Institute for American Public Policy ranked first among the centers specialized in energy and resources, and the United States ranked first in the number of best centers in the list of specialized centers in this specialization, where 15 centers were listed in 60 centers all over the world. It also has 5 of the top 10 centers in specialization, Germany came in 6, UK in 5, India in 4, China in a very late ranking, it has only 2 centers in energy and resources. Although the Gulf and Middle East countries are the most in the world oil production, they have only 4 centers in the complete list of the best centers in this regard in the world that consists of 60 centers, one of them for Saudi Arabia in the 13th place and the other for the Emirates in the 33rd place. Another is for Jordan in the 39th place, and another for Morocco in the 52nd place.
  7. Education Policy: The United States has been the top country in the most specialized education policy, with 16 centers of specialization, out of 74 centers listed as the best specialized in the field. The US centers also got 8 of the top 10 centers in ranking the best think tanks in education policies, and only two centers were excluded from the first ten, one for Czech country and the other is a Japanese center, the National Institute for Japanese Education Policy Research, which issues the position in this specialization. Although Japan has no other position on the list of best centers in specialization that included 74 centers, it topped the ranking with the best position, which shows Japan’s interest in quality, not quantity. It is noticeable that there is no great interest from the European countries or even the leading countries in the number of centers like India and China, where India has only two centers of specialization, and China has only one place, and the United Kingdom has only three centers. France, Russia, and Italy each had only one specialization center, Germany had no such center, and the entire Arab countries were absent from the arrangement.
  8. Environmental policy: The Stockholm Institute for the Swedish Environment issues the first place in the classification of centers specialized in environmental affairs in a list of 99 centers, the United States has taken the largest number of centers in specialization, 16 of which are 5 in the top 10 in this specialization, and India came in the second place with 9 centers. This specialization represents the largest number of centers in any Indian specialty, and German centers have been heavily concentrated in this specialization, with 7 centers, 3 of which were in the top 10, and the Arab centers have been absent from the list of centers dealing with environmental policies. This indicates that a big number of Arab countries did not care about this matter.
  9. Local Health Affairs: Cambridge Research Center for British Health Services issues the best specialized centers in local health affairs over the last 3 years, which made the report classified the center as a center of excellence in this specialization. The United States came in the lead of the ranking in terms of the number of the best centers in this specialization, 21 of which 7 came among the top 10 in specialization, and India and China came in the second position behind America with 6 centers each. The Arab countries have only one position in the classification, which belongs to Morocco and occupied the 28th position, from a list that included 60 centers in this specialization.
  10. World Health: The Cambridge Research Center for British Health Services issues the best centers specialized in world health affairs over the last 3 years, which made the report classified the center as a center of excellence in this specialization (as in the case of local health affairs). The United States of America topped the list with 13 centers, 6 of which are in the top 10 in specialization, and the United Kingdom came behind with 3 centers, including the leading specialization center, and the emergence of US and British health centers in the local and international fields, which indicates the two countries’ interest in the health sector in both levels. The Arab countries have a single position in classification, which belongs to Morocco in the 23rd position, out of 32 countries by classification.
  11. Science and Technology: US Innovation and Information Technology Corporation topped the best centers in science and technology, US topped the ranking with 20 centers, 3 of them were among the top 10 in this category, India came second in the ranking with 7 centers, Britain and Japan came third with 5 centers. The 10 best centers witnessed the entry of a center for the Zionist entity and a solution in the 8 ranking, which indicates the Israeli occupation’s interest in and progress in the field of science and technology, and the top 10 positions were ranked for the first time Africa, a center belonging to the state of Kenya. Arab centers were absent as usual from the complete list that includes the best thought centers in science and technology that consists of 72 centers, which explains why they depend completely on all technology means for their import from abroad and not for their adoption of innovation and modern sciences.
  12. Social Sciences: The American Urban Institute issues the best social sciences centers for the last 3 years, which made the report classified the center as a center of excellence in this specialization, and the United States topped the list with 24 centers, including the center of excellence, in addition to 6 centers among the top 10 centers in specialization. The United Kingdom came second with 9 centers, then India third with 8 centers, Germany with 4 centers, China with 3 centers, and the Arab thought centers were totally absent from this classification. No Arab think tank exists in the list of the best social sciences centers, which number reaches 108 centers, listed as the best in this specialization .
  13. Transparency and good governance: The German International transparency Society has topped the best think tanks in the specialization of transparency and good governance, and the United States has taken Al Asad’s share in the list of best centers with 15, 8 of them out of the top 10 in this specialization. This shows the United States interest in this kind of center for government policies, Britain came second with 7 centers, and India third with 5 centers. Although Germany has the best center in specialization, it has only two positions on the list of the top 67 centers, and the Arab think tanks have also been absent in the list of best centers for transparency and good governance policies, which explains the decline in their ranking in international integrity, transparency and governance indicators.
  14. Food Security: The Agricultural Research Center for Development (France) was the best center in food security, and the United States ranked the top of the number of centers listed as the best in specialization with 29 centers, including 4 among the top 10, behind which Britain came with 10. The most distinguished specialty of the British research centers is food security, and the British centers were not on the best list of any specialization in this number except in the food security department, and food security was the highest specialization for the Italian centers with 5 centers and two of the five are on the top 10 list. The French positions were strongly in the top 10, with India and France ranked first and third, and Arab countries ranked the Arab positions in this specialization strongly, unlike the previous specializations. The Arab countries were in six centers in the best specialization list that included 136 centers all over the world, headed by the Desert Research Center (Egypt) in the 13th ranking, the highest ranking for any Arab center in all disciplines, then the Desert Agriculture Initiative (Saudi Arabia) in the 20th place. The Institute for Policy, Health, Development and Information (Palestine) followed in 79, ICARDA in 85, and SARD in 97, and finally ICARDA in 108.
  15. Water Security: China Institute for Water Resources and hydropower Research (CIMI) has been the best center in water security, and the US centers have traditionally reserved the largest number of best-known sites with 22 of them, 3 of the top 10 in specialization, and the Australian research centers have been very present in this specialization. Eight of them are on the list of best centers in specialization (one of the top 10 in specialization and the ninth place), and the specialization of water security witnessed the strongest appearance of any African country in all disciplines in six centers for South Africa, which equates with Britain in the same number. This confirms the need of African countries for water security, and despite the small representation of Chinese research centers in this specialization, reaching 3 centers in the complete classification, it was ranked among the top 10 centers in specialization, despite the strong need of Arab countries to provide sustainable water sources and their severe lack of water. About 75% of the Arab world population is below the water poverty line of 1,000 cubic meters per person per year, while 35% of them have a share of renewable water below 500 cubic meters per person.[19] 55 this is a very low per capita water rate; The Arab research centers were listed as the best in specialization only through the Somali Water and Environment Center in Mogadishu University (Somalia), and the 75th ranking was included among the best research centers in the field of water security that included 78 centers.

Fourth: Centers of future thinking. Role and direction Consulting

The think tanks are concerned primarily with the future and the changes and developments that it holds through formulating an unexpected hypothetical vision and drawing scenarios that some may see as unlikely at present, in the light of the international system at all levels. In the near future, think tanks will have the highest say in all life matters through adopting future thinking mechanisms, challenging old beliefs, and reshaping decision makers’ awareness of future threats and challenges that should be prepared with alternatives and options to reduce their negative effects. In this focus we will discuss the scope of future think tanks’ attention and what new roles they may play.

First: The approach of thought. The centers of Eastern and Western thought are being blended

Think tanks in Western countries focus on specialization, individual capabilities, institutional structures, decentralization, and support for free work, and through our previous review of the map of centers spread and the disciplines in the two former axes show that American and British positions (as the two most powerful countries in the think tanks of the Western bloc) The overall perspective of the center, which has provided a great opportunity for US centers to appear among the best in most disciplines, has been followed by the Western bloc, which has been interested in quantity and quality, with 305 US centers receiving centers in the best centers in different disciplines. The United States has 1872 centers in different disciplines, 16.29% of American centers are listed among the best in the world in different disciplines, and the top of their centers in 7 disciplines.

Britain has 88 centers in the best centers in different disciplines, while Britain has 321 centers in different disciplines, i.e. 27.4% of British centers were listed among the best in the world in different disciplines, which is very high, and its centers topped the list of best specialists. They are global health and local health.

As for the Eastern States, the centers of thought focus on multiplicity of tasks, in specialization, group and centralization, support of the State’s direction, and the Eastern States are interested in taking the guts at the expense of the quality. Considering India and China as the two largest countries with think tank in the East Camp, India, despite having 509 centers, has replaced it globally, with only 79 centers, 15.5%, in the best-in-disciplinary list. The center did not lead any general arrangement for any specialization, and China, which possesses 507 centers, has only 56 centers in the best lists, i.e. 11%, and its centers were topped by only one specialization, water security.

Despite the intense competition between the western and eastern blocs and the different approaches and orientation between them at present, the centers of future thinking will move to remove those borders and differences, and the visions and trends will converge, especially with the world opening up more and more.

Second: Priorities for the future. Integration of disciplines with the comparative advantage of States

Comparative advantage is an economic term attributed to the English political economist David Ricardo, which refers to the economy’s ability to produce goods and services at lower cost than those owned by commercial partners, or the ability of a country to produce a particular commodity at lower cost and higher quality than any other country. However, it may be useful to produce with a second country if it has a lower opportunity cost, and the notion of comparative advantage is linked to the alternative opportunity cost, which represents the potential benefit that one could lose from choosing a particular option at another’s expense.

What is happening in the world between the United States and China, the two largest economic powers, is a contemporary example of the comparative advantage of China in its dealings with the United States in labor licenses, as Chinese workers produce goods at a much lower cost than their counterparts in the United States. The US has a comparative advantage in specialized labor that requires large capital, and as a result of cooperation American workers can produce goods or provide tight investment opportunities with lower cost opportunities, so allocating and exchanging these production lines is in their interest.

As for future think tanks, which will seek a comparative advantage at the country or regional level in a particular discipline or activity, German research centers, for example, were better organized at conferences, and American think tanks are better used for social media. And the best in media, and the best in publishing and printing… And so on.

Third: more Integration less competition … fusion towards formation of major entities

Integration is a union of interests between two or more institutions that results in the emergence of a new entity, which means the total entry of the entity of the enterprise into another organization and thus its legal entity is disappearing. This strategy will be expanded by the centers of future thinking as a result of rapid changes in the world order, namely globalization, economic freedom, clustering, increased competition among States and increased challenges facing the world, with decision-makers becoming more interested in think tanks, not necessarily integration between centers of specialization. A status may be integrated with another type, whether in terms of purpose or legal entity.

Integration will be mostly among the small and medium-sized think tanks, which represent a strategic choice for these centers toward clustering and alliance to create a new, giant entity that can exploit global competition for its benefit and be able to achieve the goals that each center cannot achieve on its own. In order to overcome future problems, centers should be integrated into a larger entity, the best way to achieve many positive aspects, while acquisitions are often undertaken by large capital centers that do not need to be integrated because their financial centers are strong.

In the future, we are expected to see the US Brookings Center merge with the Rand Center to form a strategic partnership in a giant new entity, or the British Chatham House Center will take over the Belgian International crisis Center… And so on.

Fourth: Programming of think tanks. Artificial intelligence rules the world

The Fourth Industrial Revolution led to the development of automated information processing and communication and Internet technologies, so that artificial intelligence technologies are becoming smarter than human beings, predicting the trends of changing the world’s future, reshaping the power, and even the entire global system, and creating new future alternatives for decision makers. The think tanks will be more closely linked to artificial intelligence technologies, which means greater expansion of the production, construction and installation of these technologies, especially in the industrialized countries, and the artificial intelligence systems, with their sophisticated technologies, need massive investments to make in this promising field. So in the near future, AI will be adopted in analyzing events, predicting variables, and looking ahead, the next two decades will witness the period of the escalation of the use of artificial intelligence technologies, and it will come a day when it is AI software that is planning states, and that is the real decision-maker in times of peace and war.

But greater reliance on artificial intelligence can also create significant disruptions, with implications for the economy, society, and governance; Therefore, artificial intelligence should not be given absolute recognition because its absolute reliance on it will create potentially devastating and massive disorders, and artificial intelligence specialization was first included in think-center disciplines, according to the University of Pennsylvania think-tanks 2019.

Fifth: Future institutional of think tanks. Go to default

Think tanks around the world will start to rely more on outsourcing than ever before, and on recruiting temporary researchers through digital platforms, which will raise many issues that may cause some problems, such as: The problem of funding virtual think tanks and their legal form, such matters will require extensive treatment and study, and they will be taken into account when developing the think tanks classification index because of the difficulty of classifying them.

Sixth: think tanks of the future. Adopt fundamentalist and populist doctrines

Think tanks are seeking to focus on improving the functions of ethnic and racial groups, focusing on national and regional tectonic shifts in domestic and international policy, and also on adapting religions to serve expansionary political purposes and to help resolve or expand acute conflicts. Many regional leaders in the Middle East have employed their think tanks from religious ideology to serve their political purposes in light of future plans in which religions are used to redraw borders under the pretext of religious commonality, overlapping beliefs, methods of common Hajj and the like. Turkey, Iran and Israeli occupation may be three clear models for the doctrinal use in serving the country’s foreign direction, the first seeks through its Sunni doctrine to export the model of Ottoman succession to the region countries, restore the role of regional leadership, the second through the Shiite extension and trying to extend its arms and influence on the neighboring countries, and the third as the motherland of the Jews in the world. As doctrines and beliefs change, the goal remains established.

In the future, think tanks will play a greater role in this context by changing the power relations and creating a more influential global public opinion that will contribute to the reconstruction of international organization and new world institutions and the achievement of world peace through building a comprehensive framework for different religions. It will create common motives and movements through new mechanisms toward building a common global culture, and think tanks will follow more fundamentalist intellectual methods for proliferation and influence, and it will not be surprising that a think tank will produce scientific products in simple, popular language to export the popular leadership model to the world. One of the most prominent of these populist ideologies is President Trump’s model, which many Western and Eastern intellectual schools will follow to adopt this model.

Seventh: Half of parties. Think tanks are alternative platforms for political parties

The new reality is that most advanced industrial democracies are faced with political polarization and the fragmentation of political parties to prevent their reaching what they want, and think tanks are uniquely positioned to help provide sound analyzes and advice on how to address the state of polarization and political conflicts so that they are based on scientific orientations. These will make think tanks political platforms for solving political problems, so that the development of think tanks is the nucleus for the creation of new political organizations capable of filling other vacant positions, and the need for their role to evolve into political parties capable of conducting organizational political action in an attempt to challenge the constraints and structures of the current traditional political parties.

Eighth: Shadow diplomacy. Think tanks are part of the authority

The think tanks will emerge from their isolation to start seeking relationships with think tanks in other parts of the world in order to serve their countries’ policies, as a result of the increasing awareness of the need for international information and skills exchange and the development of strong relationships that can be applied in practice beyond the local level. Think tanks will be particularly keen to develop work with their think tanks, which have similar activity, but also to maintain contacts with think tanks that share common issues anywhere in the world, even if they are different from those in activities and policies. In the future, strong links will be established between think tanks through integration networks and additional links because of joint leadership positions, and the involvement of elite researchers in interlocking sites that are likely to be transitory of nationalities.

In the future, countries and elites will move more to think tanks in the coming years, which will provide them with more funding, and despite the importance of resources, but more importantly the ability to organize long-term work defined by a variety of qualified people working for a clear common goal. It will be necessary for any permanent leadership endeavors to succeed, and thought centers may be better thought of as part of the mechanism for exercising the second aspect of power, through their participation in the drafting and drafting of laws in such a way that some options are simply outside the decision-making agenda, and think tanks will become a tool for enhancing the external diplomacy of States. It is not ruled out that the centers of thought in a country may draw their relations with the outside world based on the complex and interlocking foreign policy and diplomacy calculations.

In conclusion, the world will witness agents to monitor and evaluate the work of think tanks globally, through cooperation with specialized agencies within each State, whether governmental or specialized, with a view to developing an internal assessment of each State’s think tanks, through partnerships with local universities in each region. The near future will also see the establishment of an electronic gateway for each region or continent with the aim of communicating between the centers and each other and bringing together all the countries of the world; In order to exchange experiences between institutions and some and to easily familiarize yourself with each country’s research product, an annual conference will be held to provide a forum for researchers and think tanks to discuss the most important issues of concern to think tanks in each regional sector.


World think tanks Report, University of Pennsylvania, link:

American farmers provide food to the world, US Chier America, US State Department, 6/3/2019, link:

Latin America. Back to previous time, the magazine on Finance and Development (IMF, No. 52, 2015), link:

  • Amani Al-Taweel, Where does “Water Poverty” Lead Africa ?, An Independent Arab, 10/11/2019, link:
  • Three-quarters of the Arab World population is below the “Water poverty” line, Environment and Development prospects (Development Action Center, No. 63, 2014) link:
  • Global Development Center website, link:

NIDI Research progress Site, link:

  • Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, Evaluation of Arab and International Research and Studies Centers, 2019, link:
  • McGannn, James G, 2019 Global Go to think Tank Index Report, (USA, University of Pennsylvania, 2020), Link:
  1. Global Development Center, Research Center Performance Measurement: Updated with 2014 data, 3/17/2015, link:
  2. National Research Progress Institute, link:
  3. Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, Evaluation of Arab and International Research and Studies Centers, 2019, link:
  4. University of Pennsylvania, Global Centers of Thought Index, link:
  5. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  6. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  7. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  8. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  9. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  10. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  11. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  12. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  13. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  14. American farmers provide food to the world, Shear America, US Department of State, 3/6/2019, link:
  15. Latin America. Returning to its old times, Finance and Development Review, (IMF, No. 52, 2015) p. 14, link:
  16. Amani Al-Taweel, where does “water poverty” lead Africa? independentarabia, 10/11/2019, link:
  17. op. cit.
  18. Source: Prepared by the researcher, based on the University of Pennsylvania report, at the following link:
  19. Three quarters of the population of the Arab world is under the “Water Poverty” line, Prospects for Environment and Development (Development Action Center, No. 63, 2014), link:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts