Headline: Digital Disruptions and the Emergence of Virtual Think Tanks

This chapter focuses on policy-relevant research organizations or think tanks as important institutions in open, democratic, innovative, and adaptable political systems. Think tanks deal with data, facts, ideas, and narratives as most fleeting commodities and should be highly vulnerable to digital disruption. The evidence shows, however, that think tanks manage to incorporate digital innovations into their operations, both internally and how they related to their various audiences. Digital innovations provide as many opportunities to think tanks as they present threats. This is true for old, pre-digital think tanks that adapted by developing additional layers of management and communication as well as for digitally native think tanks that were created with digital opportunities in mind. Recently, an evidence base documenting good and best practice of using digital opportunities in think tanks has begun to build up, and there are first good case studies on the development of digital strategies. Although there are warnings but no signs yet of widespread digital disruption of think tanks, there are examples of emerging virtual think tanks that might only cost 10 % to establish and operate compared to traditional think tank organizations with similar access to expertise and producing output at similar levels of quality, quantity, breadth, and depth. Although a ratio of 1:10 would indicate disruptive potential, there is no evidence of disruption yet. It appears that the early examples are not sufficiently matured and understood to be replicated, which would involve think tank sponsors accepting the new format of virtual think tanks and provide them with long-term funding.

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Monographs and Edited Volumes

Kraemer, R. A. (2017). Digital Disruptions and the Emergence of Virtual Think Tanks. In A. Khare, B. Stewart, & R. Schatz (Eds.), Phantom Ex Machina: Digital Disruption’s Role in Business Model Transformation (pp. 281-295). Cham: Springer.

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