Geography sucks. When we were back in school, all we had to do was to measure the total annual precipitation and develop concepts to revitalize the Uckermark, a local german area which is famous for it’s sahara-like features: no fertility, no tourism, no population, nothing. This was annoying because we didn’t choose to busy ourselves with this problem nor had we any plan how to do such a thing like revitalization. Geography was the first subject I dropped at school.
In fact, as a Think Tank, we are kind of back where we started at that time. We try to develop concepts for a problem. But nowadays, nobody is telling us to do so. We do this, because we want to, because it’s bothering us. We don’t want to commercialize our ideas genuinely. If it happens, we are happy because of the funding. But it’s not our goal.
This is the reason why Think Tanks are generally considered non-profits. But in contrast to old-fashioned non-profits, we don’t want to implement our solutions immediately. We develop them and popularize them, leaving the implementation to others or set to work in a suitable corporate form. As a Think Tank, we want to create awareness, not outcome.
Or, as a legal definition: A think tank is a legal and entrepreneurial association of natural or legal persons who jointly develop a political, social and economic concept or strategy. Notice the unclear application of concept and strategy, but we will get to that later.
This definition states that Think Tanks do not require any form of society with limited personal liability. The cognitive capacity to develop and design concepts and strategies can not cause liability issues. In addition to a nearly non-existent administrative burden the think tank is mainly based on contractual agreements under civil law, distinguishing a high degree of flexibility in business operations. Therefore, this new form of business structure is an attractive model for the future of small to medium-sized research institutions.
However, one should still keep in mind that the construct of the think tank is still relatively new and is therefore not substantiated by the laws of the legislature or the jurisdictions of the judiciary. The legal form of a think tank is still based on the foundations of civil law in the Civil Code as there do not exist official regulations for the law of taxation.
And what about this concept/strategy thing? What this terminology is trying to state is a multi-perspective view on the work of Think Tanks. What we think we produce is a solution for an existing problem. Others don’t even know about the existence of this problem or don’t care or think it’s not a problem. However, at the end, we state an idea for a solution which can be considered as a concept or a strategy to handle the stated problem. And that’s it.