But ultimately, political entrepreneurs are the ones who arbitrage between academic ideas and political inefficiencies (p. 22).
That is form a paper by Dani Rodrik. The title is "When Ideas Trump Interests: Preferences, World Views, and Policy Innovations." A draft is here.
The contemporary approach to political economy is built around vested interests – elites, lobbies, and rent-seeking groups which get their way at the expense of the general public. The role of ideas in shaping those interests is typically ignored or downplayed. Yet each of the three components of the standard optimization problem in political economy – preferences, constraints, and choice variables – rely on an implicit set of ideas. Once the manner in which ideas enter these frameworks is made explicit, a much richer and more convincing set of results can be obtained. In particular, new ideas about policy—or policy entrepreneurship—can exert an independent effect on equilibrium outcomes even in the absence of changes in the configuration of political power.
Rodrik comments on and cites the book Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers, by Edward Lopez & Wayne Leighton, which stimulated Rodrik to write the paper.
On the sources of ideas and policy innovations he writes
Perhaps the single most important source of ideas and policy innovation are practices that prevail elsewhere. The fact that a policy has worked – or at least is perceived to have worked – somewhere can be a powerful reason to copy it. Social security privatization in Chile, microfinance in Bangladesh, conditional cash grants in Mexico, and special economic zones China are some examples of policy innovation that gained adherents around the world following implementation in their native settings. Much legal and regulatory reform in the developing world is modeled after existing models in North America or Western Europe. The appeal of “imported ideas” is clear. Ready‐made policies eliminate or reduce the cost of home‐grown innovation and experimentation. The perception of their success elsewhere can also act as a counterweight to powerful vested interests at home (p. 26).