Heritage Earns Top Ranking for Best Managed Free-Market Think Tank 


Heritage Earns Top Ranking for Best Managed Free-Market Think Tank 

March 3rd, 2021

Under the presidency of Kay C. James, The Heritage Foundation was recognized as the the best managed free-market think tank on the University of Pennsylvania's annual rankings.

Each year, Forbes contributor Alejandro Chafuen analyzes the University of Pennsylvania’s rankings of think tanks from around the world—with a particular focus on free-market policy organizations. The Heritage Foundation tops the list in six categories, including the best managed free-market think tank. 

In addition to ranking No. 1 in the best managed category, Heritage was also recognized as the top ranked organization for best use of social networks, best use of internet, best external relations, best use of print media, and most public policy impact. Overall, the report listed Heritage as the top free-market think tank with 26 mentions in the University of Pennsylvania’s “Global Go To Think Tank Index.” 

“For those who work in policy research and advocacy centers,” Chafuen wrote, “think tanks matter, and thus high rankings or mentions in the Index are important.” 

The chart below outlines the categories featured in Chafuen’s report for Forbes. 

Under the leadership of Heritage President Kay C. James, the organization has made significant progress in the management category. Heritage improved from 13th in 2018 and 10th in 2019 to sixth in the latest edition of the University of Pennsylvania index. Over the course of those three years, Heritage has made notable management improvements to strengthen the organization now and for the future. 

James and her predecessor, Heritage founder Ed Feulner, are featured authors in a new book, “The Future of Think Tanks and Policy Advice in the United States” edited by Dr. James McGann, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program. 

McGann invited Heritage Vice President for Policy Promotion Bridgett Wagner to speak at the University of Pennsylvania’s 2020 Global Think Tank Summit and 2020 North American Think Tank Summit on some of Heritage’s innovative management practices, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wagner discussed Heritage’s Enterprise Risk Management team, which brings together managers to assess risks to the organization and prepare action plans to mitigate potential problems.  

Those plans are regularly updated to reflect real-world developments. Wagner noted “as the pandemic worsened, the group started to meet daily, allowing the team to review programs more actively and make early decisions.”   

Wagner also highlighted Heritage’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, which developed nearly 300 specific policy recommendations for federal, state, and local governments, and businesses, churches, charities, and community organizations to help them navigate the crisis.  

Chaired by James and led by two executive directors at Heritage, the commission included numerous business and community leaders as well as public health experts. The commission made more than 40,000 contacts with policymakers across the United States. Ultimately, 35 U.S. states adopted the commission’s top recommendations. 

Shortly after becoming Heritage’s president in 2018, James embarked on a three-year strategic plan for the organization. She also oversaw the creation of Heritage’s “True North” principles, which guide the policies formulated by the organization’s scholars and research team

These developments have helped Heritage earn high marks in the University of Pennsylvania index and remain one of America’s most successful policy organizations. 

“The challenge of the moment and the future is to be on the cutting edge—which Heritage continues to be,” McGann said. “That is the genius and the success of Heritage.” 

A Table showing the 2019 and 2020 ranking of free-market think tanks and key competitors

For more information on Chaufen’s analysis, click here to read his Forbes article.