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Think tanks in Serbia: In Pursuit of Impact


Think tanks in Serbia are still in swaddling clothes, carrying out their activities in an underdeveloped policy-making environment. Apart from the legal and institutional framework, this environment consists of actors who basically shape the policy-making process. The policy-making actors in Serbia lack appropriate human and financial resources and know-how required for participation in the process.The current legal and institutional framework for policy-making is inadequate.


This process implies a partnership among its actors, i.e. decision-makers, interest groups, research community, donors and think tanks. Although the brunt of responsibility in this process lies with the decision-makers, strengthened capacities of all the other actors, their regular communication and mutual trust also contribute to better quality of policies.


The aim of this study is to contribute to the improvement of the public policy-making practice in Serbia. Think tanks' capacity-building is an aspect of development of an enabling environment for policy-making in Serbia. Hence, the study gives recommendations to the think tanks with the aim of improving their relationship with the decision-makers, research community, interest groups and donors alike. Things can change in practice without having to modify the legal and institutional framework if, in short term and medium term, think tanks take a proactive attitude. Although adjustments to the legal and institutional framework are preferrable, they are part of long-term comprehensive changes that go beyond the limits of this study.

The first part of the study gives an overview of the current situation of think tanks in Serbia. Its findings indicate a trend, despite some deviations and different practice examples. Associations were analysed for two reasons: a) there is no study concerning the research and advocacy capacities of associations in Serbia; b) the practice of drafting and advocating evidence-based policy proposals is most dynamic among associations, as compared to other forms of research organisations in Serbia (academic, governmental or profit-making scientific and research organisations). The second part of the study analyses relations with other actors in the policy-making process.


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