Think Tanks and University Relations in Ethiopia

Terefe Zeleke, Deribe Assefa


This study investigated the relationship between think tanks and universities in terms of research, training, policy dialogue and consultancy activities. Think tanks in this study considered as ‘organizations that produce research products with the aim of creating policy debates, informing decision-makers and making appropriate interventions in the policy process directly/indirectly. The growth of think tanks in Ethiopia accelerated in 1990s owing to the change in the government system from a dictatorship to the current federal arrangement and the Global Go to Think Tanks Report 2011 indicated that there are 25 think-tanks in Ethiopia. In order to investigate the relationship between  think-tanks and universities, this study has employed the descriptive type of research and collected primary data from 10 think-tank institutions, two private universities and six public universities of social science education programs.Subsequently, the study found that the collaboration of universities and think tanks in research is mainly based on interactions between individuals where there is no formally established network between universities and think tanks for undertaking collaborative research. Universities based outside the country’s capital lack access to information about think tanks to undertake collaborative research. The study also confirmed that collaboration between the two entities in the area of training and education is relatively good.  However, it is still more individual-based rather than institution-based. In addition, it was realized that there is relatively good collaboration in the area of policy dialogue, which occurs through conferences, workshops and seminars. Furthermore, it was found that most staffs of think tanks and university departments have not been actively involved in consultancy activities in the fast five years. For few of those university departments that undertook consultancy, above 75 percent worked on their own without seeking collaboration with think tanks. Therefore, developing a strategic framework for universities and think tanks’ collaboration and encouraging greater sharing of information between them are very important solutions to promote the collaboration between the two entities in stated four areas in the future.

Keywords: Think tanks, university, research, training, consultancy, policy dialogue

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