Think Tanks and Decision-Making in Foreign and Security Policies in the Baltic States

Danguolė BARDAUSKAITĖ (General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania)

The purpose of the presentation is to unveil the nexus between the governments of the Baltic states and think tanks, focusing on think tanks that work on foreign and security policy. The presentation is based on the theoretical assumption that the role of think tanks depends on the governmental officials’ perceptions of think tanks. In other words, the role of think tanks in decision-making is primarily dependent on the decision-makers themselves rather than the qualifications of think tanks. Policy research intensity, financial capabilities, and the visibility of think tanks differ in each Baltic country due to divergent perceptions of governmental officials on what a think tank role is or should be on national, international, and transnational levels. Some governments are mostly interested in strategically favorable knowledge dissemination using traditional and digital means rather than expectations that think tanks should produce policy recommendations. Others focus on think tanks as their knowledge extenders. Additionally, they expect think tanks to provide views from the outside, which might help to look at the policy issues in a somewhat different light. It can also be stated that the Baltic governments are highly interested in influencing well-known think tanks abroad to further their national interests. To conclude, the presentation will emphasize the necessity of dialogue between think tanks and governments. The ability of think tanks to contribute with their knowledge into the decision-making is possible, yet highly dependent on the willingness of decision-makers to cooperate with think tanks.

Keywords: Think tanks, Baltic states, knowledge dissemination, influence, decision-making.