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By Erin Zimmerman

Asian safeguard associations have struggled to conform to the so-called 'non-traditional' protection matters that characterise the strategic panorama of the twenty first century. The ensuing gaps in governance have more and more been stuffed by way of imagine tanks, that have arguably started to alter the way in which that Asian defense is ruled.

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Extra resources for Think Tanks and Non-Traditional Security: Governance Entrepreneurs in Asia

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In effect, think tank promotion of the NTS agenda is a de facto call for new or ‘altered’ forms of governance; particularly ones that adhere more closely to emerging security paradigms. Recognising that ideas can define and guide preferences in times of political uncertainty is important for explaining think tank success institutionalising the NTS agenda. During such times, the structural and materialist constraints normally guiding policy can be challenged by ‘inter-elites’ wielding ‘crisis-defining’ ideas (Blyth 2007).

The most fully reasoned theory emerging from this stream of research is that of discursive (constructivist) institutionalism, which combines the three previous ‘new’ institutionalisms with constructivism and postmodernist approaches to discourse (Tønder 2010). DI fills a gap in constructivism and the other new institutionalisms (RI, HI and SI), which have struggled to explain institutional change. Because think tanks often operate at the ‘invisible’ discursive level of policy-making, static and state-centric constructivist theories lack the ability to account for the influence of think tanks on policy or the development of think tanks as policy actors (Jones 2009; Stone 2011).

Institutionalized norms express a world view that influences behaviour not only directly, by setting standards of appropriateness for behavior, but also indirectly, through selective prefabricated links between values that individuals or collectivities habitually rely upon to address specific problems. (Katzenstein 1993: 158) Institutionalised ideas influence policy for decades or even generations and sometimes outlive the circumstance which gave rise to their initial creation (adapted from Goldstein and Keohane 1993; Blyth 2002).

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