Think-Tank Networks in Mexico and How They Shape Economic and Political Reforms

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:20
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Alejandra SALAS-PORRAS, Facultad de Ciencias Poli­ticas y Sociales-UNAM, Mexico
Think tanks and policy experts in Mexico have become increasingly conspicuous in the news media, as well as in the most relevant public discussions. But despite their influence on planning the economic and political reforms of the last three decades and the growing literature on think tanks in both the Global North and Latin America, little academic work has been undertaken on Mexican think tanks. This paper seeks to fill this void by analyzing their most important characteristics: who controls them; the networks they have constructed over the past thirty years; the strategies they pursue to influence policy-making; the most influential ideological orientations; and the extent to which the Mexican think tank network is linked to regional or international networks. I argue that the landscape of Mexican organizations undertaking policy research has undergone a profound transformation over the past three decades, partly due to a political economy increasingly centred in the market. The main changes point towards: (1) an increasingly greater presence of independent TT and private consultancy firms that undertake not only research on public policies, but executive and legislative lobbying too; (2) a more challenging advocacy role of academic and business TT that actively participate in the media and multiple forums to build consensus around, and acceptance of, the neoliberal reforms proposed; (3) the disappearance or fading away of former state research centers, particularly those promoting developmentalist tasks; (4) the concentration of state research in autonomous public agencies requiring very specialized information; and (5) new and more complex forms of collaboration and cooperation between business affiliated, academic and other TTs, national and regional. However, as neoliberal reforms have increased poverty, the concentration of wealth, insecurity and other problems, alternative policy ideas and think-tanks have appeared.