Journal Article

The Role of Think Tanks in the Swedish Political Landscape



The term ‘think tank’ represents a heterogeneous concept and is used to characterisea diverse group of organisations. This diversity also characterises the Swedishorganisations and institutions that currently fall under the think tank umbrella. In the Swedish political context, most organisations known by the public and news media as think tanks are advocacy organisations with an unambiguous ideological and political profile. Further, during the last decade, we have seen a proliferation of independent, self‐declared think tanks with more specific policy agendas, such as the environment and health care. However, according to the broader understanding used in global rankings, the Swedish think tank landscape includes a range of research institutions in different policy areas. Some receive funding from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, corporations and private donors; others are government‐funded, with Stockholm's International Peace Research Institute as a prominent example. The aim of this article is to map the Swedish think tank landscape and its borders and analyse the roles of different types of think tanks in consensual or confrontational policymaking. Strategic differences among these types are related to historical background and funding. While government‐funded and some policy‐sector think tanks typically represent a tradition of consensual policymaking, those funded by the Corporation of Swedish Enterprise and other business interests represent a postcorporatist development advocating neoliberal ideas and assuming a confrontational role in the expansion of private ownership and market solutions.

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About the Authors

Sigurd Allern

Utbildning: Dr.polit. vid Universitetet i Bergen (1997). Magistergrad i sociologi, Universitetet i Oslo, 1974. Professor i journalistik vid Universitetet i Oslo sedan 2003. Bonnier professor, JMK, Stockholms Universitet, 2008. Gästprofessor Stoc... Read more

Ester Pollack

Ester Pollack, PhD, is a Professor of Journalism Studies in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. Her research combines sociological and historical perspectives on the relations between two of society’s institutions: journalism ... Read more


Allern, S. and Pollack, E. (2020). The Role of Think Tanks in the Swedish Political Landscape. Scandinavian Political Studies, pp. 1-25. doi: