Gabriel Ortiz de Zevallos and Alejandro Salas
The emergence of think tanks 1 in Peru is recent when compared with their Western counterparts. The context in which each has been created, their financing and staffing choices, research agenda priorities and product development options are diverse, but some fundamentals are common. Because of low salaries, strong bureaucracies and a lack of independence, a significant proportion of professionals interested in the general area of public policy have not been attracted to the public sector or to universities. 2 Instead, this professional group has created think tanks and/or consulting firms, looking for different sources of funding to finance the studies by which they want to contribute to the policy process.
International funding has played a key role in shaping the structure and agenda of think tanks in Peru, probably more than would have been desirable, without denying its usefulness. Some think tanks have adopted a more typical organisation, similar to those of Western countries, while others have not. All have struggled with the difficult task of obtaining funds from foreign sources and influencing local decision makers, some with better results than others.
The first wave of think tanks emerged in the 1960s and early 1970s in the context of military and populist regimes, with the predominant vision of those times in favor of a large and interventionist state as the engine for solving social problems. A second wave of research institutes and consulting firms emerged in the 1980s, a period of high macroeconomic instability for the country and of dramatic change of the state-market paradigm in the whole world. These first two waves were characterised by the availability of significant funding from European and American sources. Since 1990, however, funding has been more restricted and more practically oriented. A few more think tanks were created during the 1990s, but it is still hard to judge whether these efforts will be sustainable in this more competitive environment.
From the standpoint of a developing country, this chapter looks in detail at the constraints and difficulties in the Peruvian policy environment encountered by think tanks. All in the think tank community face the severe information failures of the policy process in Peru, which most probably are common to other