I am sorry if my question is stupid, but I can't figure out the difference between these three.

  • Well, you might have told us a bit more. It's like saying, what's the difference between: an apple, an orange and an orchard.
    – Lambie
    Sep 5, 2021 at 15:24
  • @Lambie it's more like the difference between a bucket, a pail, and a keg.
    – Mitch
    Sep 5, 2021 at 18:58
  • @Lambie or a hagfish, a salmon, and a cow.
    – Mitch
    Sep 5, 2021 at 18:58

1 Answer 1


Per Oxford Dictionary:


A group of people constituted as the decision-making body of an organization.


A small group of people brought together to discuss, investigate, or decide on a particular matter, esp. in the context of business or government.

think tank

A body of experts providing advice and ideas on specific political or economic problems.

A board is a group responsible for decision-making in an organization. A board of directors makes all of the central, high-level managerial decisions for a corporation, for example.

I would say that boards and think tanks are both kinds of panels, although think tanks stop being considered panels when they are no longer small. Panel is also used when a group of people answer questions for a generalized audience. For example, people who answer questions at a convention due to having inside knowledge of the topic are considered members of a panel. The same would go of a panel that answers government questions fielded by a concerned public. However, this definition of panel is not really related to the one you asked about.

Think tanks don't make decisions. They try to solve problems and will likely have an advisory role to whoever needs to make the decisions.

  • 1
    A think tank is also an organization i.e. usually some kind of not-for-profit association.
    – Lambie
    Sep 5, 2021 at 15:23
  • I associate: panel with a small group of people on stage for an hour taking turns discussing s topic, often questions from an audience; a board with permanent positions making decisions for a company; and a think tank with a not for profit org (as @Lambie said), but salaried, intended to write informational articles on a subject.
    – Mitch
    Sep 5, 2021 at 19:16
  • boards and think tanks are not kinds of panels. Also, there are things like Board of Medicine, for example, which you didn't address.
    – Lambie
    Sep 6, 2021 at 14:07

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