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Policy Entrepreneurs and the Diffusion of Innovation

Michael Mintrom
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 41, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 738-770
DOI: 10.2307/2111674
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111674
Page Count: 33
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Policy Entrepreneurs and the Diffusion of Innovation
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Abstract

In the literature on policy innovation diffusion, political scientists have paid little attention to how ideas for innovation gain prominence on government agendas. By considering the actions of policy entrepreneurs--political actors who promote policy ideas--we can gain important insights into the process of policy innovation and innovation diffusion. Policy entrepreneurs constitute an identifiable class of political actors. Their presence and actions can significantly raise the probability of legislative consideration and approval of policy innovations. Event history analyses of the determinants of legislative consideration and approval of an idea for education reform--school choice--in the 48 contiguous United States from 1987 through 1992. The data set consists of unique information collected in a mail survey of members of the education policy elite in each state, augmented with published statistics. Policy entrepreneurs were identified as advocates of school choice in 26 states. While controlling for rival hypotheses, the presence and actions of policy entrepreneurs were found to raise significantly the probability of legislative consideration and approval of school choice as a policy innovation. These results suggest policy entrepreneurs should be given more attention in the literature on policy innovation diffusion.

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