Understanding Think Tank-University Relationships in South Asia

This project will build on a growing body of literature on knowledge systems for public policy-making in South Asia. It specifically attempts to craft theories to characterize the complex and dynamic relationship between two policy research groups: think tanks and universities. The project will examine the impact that externally provided support has on relationships between think tanks and universities.

The research team will analyze case studies by drawing on focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and secondary data sources. They will also conduct detailed studies of selected institutions in three countries: Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. More specifically, this project will:

  • contribute to shaping theoretical and conceptual frameworks to guide future research on this issue;
  • generate recommendations for support to think tanks to foster mutually beneficial relationships and/or generate positive outcomes for both think tanks and universities; and,
  • widely disseminate research results among local, regional, and global stakeholders to help influence policy and practice.

South Asia has seen a marked increase in the number of universities and think tanks assuming more proactive and visible roles in policy-related research. Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan offer opportunities for comparative analysis because they present a variety of research knowledge environments.

The project team will identify cases in each of the countries which will help capture differences in relationship patterns between think tanks and universities. The study will also help explain the role that external supports play in shaping these patterns. The project is expected to generate insights that will help key stakeholders revisit their practices in order to strengthen the overall policy-relevant knowledge environment in the region. This is one of three studies on think tank-university relationships, with other studies taking place in Latin America and Africa.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

End Date

Saturday, July 19, 2014


10 months

IDRC Officer

Taylor, Peter

Total funding

CA$ 253,750


South Asia, Central Asia, Far East Asia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan


Think Tank Initiative

Project Leader

Nidhi S. Sabharwal


Indian Institute of Dalit Studies

Institution Country


Institution Website


Project Leader

Abid Qaiyum Suleri

Project Leader

Arif Naveed


Sustainable Development Policy Institute

Institution Country


Institution Website