Where do Policy Ideas Come From? A Study of Minnesota Legislators and Staffers

Virginia Gray, David Lowery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


In this article we will examine the origin of policy ideas in a state legislature. Using data from a survey of Minnesota legislators and from a survey of staffers, we compare the sources of information used in each of three stages of the policy process: problem identification, policy formulation, and enactment. We compare the importance of traditional sources to the influence of think tanks, foundations, and newspaper editorials. We find that legislators rely primarily on their own experiences and those of their constituents. When they are compared to all other sources, the new "idea factories" have little influence in the policy process. There are few differences between policy stages in terms of the information that the legislators and staffers rely upon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-597
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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