World Politics

Research Article

The Real but Limited Influence of Expert Ideas

Johannes Lindvalla1

a1 University of Oxford, Email:


A number of influential studies in political science argue that important economic policy changes in the rich democracies since the mid-1970s were caused by the introduction of new economic ideas. This article claims that while experts exert strong influence over the selection of policy instruments, their influence over the formulation of policy objectives is much weaker. In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the predominance of Keynesianism in Austria and Denmark did not lead Austrian and Danish governments to maintain low unemployment longer than Sweden, where Keynesianism was less strong. But it did lead them to regard fiscal policy as an instrument that can be used to control the level of activity in the economy, while their Swedish counterparts relied instead on exchange rate and monetary policy.

Johannes Lindvall is a postdoctoral fellow in comparative government at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.