How think tanks help policymakers create a more equitable and prosperous Myanmar

Survey shows think tanks in Myanmar need to improve research quality and outreach to ensure officials have easy access to accurate information for making national policy.

Yangon, Myanmar – Even though the research quality of some of Myanmar’s independent research organisations is considered above average, policymakers more often turn to international think tanks for information needed to craft policies, according to the “2018 Policy Community Survey – Report on Myanmar” released today.

The report describes the results of the first local perception survey of Myanmar’s think tanks, and whether the research these organisations provide is sufficient to help policymakers address many economic and social challenges.

The survey results will inform a larger set of projects from the Myanmar Initiative aiming to help local think tanks develop. “Our hope is to help policymakers and think tanks in Myanmar work better together in addressing policy challenges, by identifying how think tanks are succeeding and where there are opportunities for improvement,” said Dr. Edgard Rodriguez from Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), who leads the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar Initiative.

“We wanted to find out: do policymakers have the research and evidence they need? What kind of research would they find most useful and is it being supplied by local think tanks? What should local think tanks do differently?” Dr. Rodriguez added.

To gather such insight, international opinion research firm GlobeScan and its local partner KANTAR Public queried senior level policy stakeholders in Myanmar, from government, civil society, media, academia, and the private sector.

Reponses show that Myanmar’s policymakers find access to relevant information on some priority topics, such as education, gender issues and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals easier than others, such as economics, poverty alleviation, natural resources and foreign affairs.

For local think tanks to become the preferred source of data and evidence and thus play a greater role in Myanmar’s development, they should focus on improving research quality, increasing the availability of experienced and trained staff, and building greater awareness of their services, according to the report.

While the survey is not representative of the views of the entire policy community in Myanmar, the report authors note that gathering perceptions of senior level participants who are often very difficult to reach provides a strong foundation to understand the strengths and weaknesses of local think tanks.

IDRC has refined the survey and its methodology through delivery in more than 20 developing countries in 2010, 2013 and 2018 under the Think Tank Initiative. This is the first time it was done in Myanmar under the new IDRC Myanmar Initiative. The survey results will help inform projects of the Myanmar Initiative that provide organizational development and capacity building to think tanks.

It was released today at the roundtable discussion “What policy makers really want from researchers: New perspectives on research and policy” in Yangon, Myanmar. The roundtable is part of an organizational development workshop (Nov 19-Nov 20), marking the start of a new Myanmar Initiative project with Kivu International: “Building Emerging Think Tank Capacity”.

To learn more about these projects visit the links below.

The report can be viewed/downloaded below.

For all media inquiries:

In English, please contact Caroline Madueno ([email protected]), local phone +95-094-4113-6157

In Burmese, please contact Patrick Lee ([email protected]), local phone +95-097-9533-8658


IDRC’s Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar aims to build the capacity of leaders to carry out research and evidence-based policymaking with a focus on inclusive economic policies and democratic laws and standards. This five-year, $10.7 million initiative is funded by Canada through the IDRC and the Global Affairs Canada.

IDRC’s Think Tank Initiative: TTI is dedicated to strengthening the capacity of independent policy research institutions in the developing country. Launched in 2008, and managed by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), TTI provides core, non-earmarked funding to 43 think tanks in 20 countries through a partnership between five donors: Hewlett Foundation, UK aid, Gates Foundation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and NORAD. The program ends in September 2019 GlobeScan is an insights and strategy consultancy, focused on helping our clients build long-term trusting relationships with their stakeholders. Offering a suite of specialist research and advisory services, we partner with business, NGOs and governmental organizations to meet strategic objectives across reputation, sustainability and purpose.

Published: 26 Nov 2018

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Websites: 2018 Policy Community Survey – Report on Myanmar Building Emerging Think Tank Capacity in Myanmar Building organizational development among Myanmar think tanks IDRC’s Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar IDRC’s Think Tank Initiative IDRC website Globe Scan website