The ideas and knowledge central to foreign policy are often produced within the context of organizations. How do organizations vet people and ideas for knowledge production? I use original data drawn from archives of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an organization that brought together elites with an interest in foreign policy, to examine the production of post–World War II US foreign policy knowledge. Drawing on literature about how organizations evaluate people and ideas, I assess how the CFR staff selected different foreign policy topics for their Program on Studies from 1955 to 1972. Case studies and multinomial logistic regression provide two forms of evidence: The justifications used by the CFR Program on Studies staff to select ideas and the relationship between recommendations of proposers and idea selection. I compare the effect of positive recommendations from different sources to distinguish between prioritizing quality and prestige and organizational identity on the other. Staff used the identity of the organization as a group of elites with particular expertise as a basis for making everyday decisions regarding which foreign policy knowledge would be codified in the program. In this way, the organization occupied a central position in the production of knowledge. This suggests that scholars of evaluation should attend to organization-level features in addition to individual-level characteristics. I discuss the implications for organizations and intellectual production.


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pp. 771-808
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