Think tank look alikes are trying to take an increasing part in the building of civil society in France. The phenomenon often proudly pointed to as the "French exception" by citizens, politicians, intellectuals, and even academic scholars in France is also visible in the field of the institutions fulfilling a public policy research function. As a matter of fact, the "French exception" also refers to the fact that various institutions fulfil the same functions and entertain the same ambitions as traditional public policy research institutions. A gap obviously divides politics and universities due to their respective recruitment policies. No French institution fully corresponds to the criteria of the purist definition or American model of public policy research institutions. A huge majority of public policy research institutes enjoys one or another legal status fitting in the category of public utility nonprofit bodies. Public policy research institutes' public service function is usually validated by the state council.