Bob Hahn (until recently of AEI) and Peter Passell offer a lesson from the David Frum firing:
>While we find this controversy intriguing in its own right (gossip… inside hardball… what could be better?), we think it misses some broader points in the way the market for think tank services is evolving. Over the last two decades, the top-drawer policy shops (AEI and Brookings) are more dependent on proactive fund-raising – and, by no coincidence, are more amenable to playing partisan games and keener to be in the public eye.
>These changes have, in turn, altered the role of the policy wonks who inhabit the space. First, there is much greater pressure to be visible; occupation of elite real estate like the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal is seen as critical to raising money. And while the think tanks still do a lot of quasi-academic research, they are more inclined to hire pundits with great rolodexes (make that great Outlook contacts).
>Note, too, that to stay in the limelight, think tanks are adjusting their time horizons. Tomorrow’s issues matter less than today’s. Accordingly, publication in refereed technical journals – especially the ones that make no effort to be journalist-friendly – counts less for promotion and status.