Think tanks are the places where data and analysis are produced through conducting certain research regarding variety of issues extending from political science to economics and technology. The data are produced by specialists and the information gathered in organizations is shared with many other organizations. Indeed, think tank system is a network in where flow of data takes place from one place to another and this takes place in a global dimension. Moreover, governments also benefit from this data flow and give financial support to some of them. The main purpose of such organizations is to affect the decision making mechanisms and inform the society about the issues which remain on the agenda. Think tanks are mostly common in developed western democracies such as the United States and the United Kingdom and these ones take a substantial role in policy making process and they are rooted such as the RAND Corporation in the U.S.A. which performs since May 14, 1948[i]
. However, in Turkey, the history of the think tanks is relatively new and many of them are under the dominance of a political party or adopt the vision of a political party. Hence, think tanks have a slight effect on policy making process and they are mostly dominated by state mechanisms.
In a new global world order where the borders of countries become blurred, many actors start to influence states- the highest authorities in the Westphalian order- and challenge the power of them. These can be exemplified by NGO’s, INGO’s and transnational companies which, indeed, transcend the word ‘nation-state’. In relation to these advancements brought by the globalization process starting with 1990’s, even think tang history could be extended to 1950’s, it is precise to say think tang organizations have had their golden age with the increasing number of them after 1990 just like other actors and strengthened their places in the new world order. When western democracies are examined, the U.S.A. comes to the forefront by sheltering most effective think tank organizations which take substantial roles at policy making process. On the other hand, eastern bloc of the world - east Europe and the middle-east – lacks the sufficient number of such organizations.[ii]
Indeed, number of think tanks is directly linked to the level of development of a country. Unfortunately, Turkey is far from sheltering these organizations in number and the present ones are mostly related with political science instead of comprising various fields and even they seem to be independent, there are some dominated by higher authorities. The think tank perception, unfortunately, has not been improved and it mainly stuck in political science [iii]
Secondly, there is a poverty of idea in quantitative and qualitative manners in Turkey. The reason here is the low number of think tanks in Turkey. If there were more organizations, the ideas would be more in number and varied in content [iv]
(title, 1.2). Actually, western democracies have covered a substantial distance regarding these manners. There is an abundance of idea when compared to Turkey. Indeed, the reason behind this finding is that those democracies are more satisfied with loose economic outcomes and social and cultural awareness. In fact, Turkey is a developing country and it is absurd to expect Turkey to catch up with the west so quickly in terms of economy and education. Nevertheless, if there has been a more social awareness about the importance of such institutions, the expansion process of think tanks could be more rapid. Therefore, social awareness has to be supported through education. Most of the population in Turkey regards think tank organizations as the places where people kill time. In order to change this view, social awareness has to be developed. Hence, this is another problem in Turkey besides the domination of think tank organizations by power holder or opponent parties and sometimes private companies.
Think tang organizations can be called as the research and development centers of thought. It is clear to say these organizations are intellectual soft powers of political societies which act accordingly with the information that they hold. That is to say, they should be more independent and objective to achieve analytical views and to convey the messages and data to the masses and policy makers. Therefore, these organizations have to be supported financially. However, Turkish think tanks lack the financial support when compared to their equivalents in western democracies. This may explain the low level of development of think tanks in Turkey.
All in all, mainly being effective with the post-cold war era, think tanks can be regarded as one of the most important bodies in a country through developing thought and affecting both the society and higher authorities with conducting certain research in a variety of context. In a new world order in which many actors have potentiality to affect each other- both in governmental and private means- think tanks have also been important and high number of them is the proof of the level of high development. In Turkey, unfortunately, there are still obstacles which constrain think tanks to take part comprehensively. These problems are the little number of think tanks, the lack of cultural awareness regarding the importance of them, the lack of financial aid to them and political party dominance. In order to catch up with the west, these problems must be solved because thought and knowledge are the very infrastructures of development. Also, well governing necessitates variety of actors for different ideas which would make this governing process more effective. A new word for governing occurs with other actors where think tanks take significant positions which would make primarily policy making process more effective; governance.