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Think Tanks

#1 Think Tanks
15/03/2007 17:37


Hello everyone,

I wanted to ask the people here about how management consultants might jump into think tanks.

Is it a feasible jump?

What kind of roles do they land?

Have many people done it?

In general, would you people suggest doing it?

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#2 RE: Think Tanks
15/03/2007 21:41

anon to Friday (#1)

Okay, I''m gonna go out on a limb here...

I imagine think tanks are highly academic environments where you'd need an advanced degree or two, with honors, from a leading uni. A distinguished body of written works (books, journal articles, etc...) would probably also be a prerequisite as you'd need to demo your excellent research, thinking and writing skills...

As this sounds like a rather rarified arena, reserved for the brainiacs among us, I doubt many have successfully pulled it off.

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#3 RE: Think Tanks
15/03/2007 22:28

anon to Friday (#1)

Thinktanks are, as a rule, political organisations (with or without the capital "p") so getting a job is as much about having the right connections and views as anything. Consulting can be good preparation if you do public-sector work and have built up a strong network.

If you want to be a thinktank researcher then strong theoretical academics and published articles are important. However, thinktanks also employ journalists and writers in roles where formal qualifications are less important than proven ability to write in a form the press is likely to pick up.

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#4 RE: Think Tanks
16/03/2007 12:11

anon to anon (#3)

i would have thought the move would be easier the other way - i.e. think tank to government consulting

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#5 RE: Think Tanks
16/03/2007 13:32

friday to anon (#4)

What about think tanks dealing with the private sector?

(and I am not talking about lobbies!) :)

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#6 RE: Think Tanks
16/03/2007 15:29

anon to friday (#5)

the think thanks dealing with the private sectors are called the CONsultant

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#7 RE: Think Tanks
24/03/2007 20:49

friday to anon (#6)


I do not agree with you.

Consultants offer a service to the client, they do not do research as a think tank would.

Within a consultancy firm I guess the Research side would do it. For example, Deloitte Research.

Has anyone been in those sides of the firms? How do they work? What kind of profiles do they look for?


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#8 RE: Think Tanks
25/03/2007 14:06

Dimanche to friday (#7)

Although think tanks "brand" the research that supports their thoughts in the media, they don't generally conduct that research themselves - they commission it from market or social research firms, or contract with independent researchers.

So, I guess the questions are about research arms of consulting firms (as opposed to research firms who offer research or analytics directly as a service).

These arms have two internal functions - they may respond to requests for research from consultants, and they can support marketing activities.

In the first role, research is focussed on gathering data to back up or guide consulting recommendations. Usually this will be secondary research unless the client wants to commission a special study.

In the second role, the research function generates "thought leadership" pieces either for senior consultants/partners to publish or for inclusion in the firm's promotional literature (which ranges from one-off brochures to regular publications like McKinsey Quarterly).

The range of roles on offer goes from researchers, through archivists and knowledge managers, to marcomms professionals.

A researcher needs to demonstrate research experience, usually through applied research in a social science field, but this does not need to be at a postgraduate level - you can become a junior researcher with a decent BSc.

Knowledge managers need to demonstrate experience on the interfaces with both IT and consultants (or the business if you have industry experience).

There may also be roles for dedicated marketing communications professionals if the firm is using its research wing to produce regular publications. They need to have communications skills and experience primarily, but also some understanding of the technical issues that the researchers will be bringing out.

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