Long stream of consciousness re the book. Feel free to not read. Some of this is musing about the past.
This is an interesting, easily readable book. It is not a fountain of wisdom on what "should be" however, it is reasonably balanced assessment from an academic. The book inventories sources of policy ideas, in particular focusing on the role of academia as experts. The section on think tanks is interesting, brought back memories, McKinsey both praised and panned. Other think tanks are portrayed positively/negatively (Tetlock’s analyses on accuracy of “experts” for forecasting are incisive … experts less accurate than amateurs … references Superforecasting but "Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?" is the book to get). Drezner explains Heritage Foundation, how it went downhill after DeMint took over moving to ideological instead of pursuit of intellectual rigor in advancement of ideas. He explains that ideological polarization has come to universities however, still advocates professors entering into the public ideas game, being the foxes in the Berlin parable in contrast to TED talkers and idea evangelists who are hedgehogs capably pushing their one idea (Tetlock offers detailed histories and data for how the hedgehogs fail, fixated on the one thing they are "experts").
A example from my past of pushing the 1 big idea is a professor turned consultant pushing a "new" methodology, actually a warmed over version of Porter’s work, new packaging. It was obvious he had no idea how to operationalize it, learning from his clients, not an uncommon consultant practice. Some of the orthodoxy was unusable but company staff plugged on, doing what they were told. This was during the heady days of mid 1990's re-engineering and "revolutionary" management thinking. Reading this book brought back the memory of evangelism triumphing over common sense.
Among other things, this is a survey of how new ideas on public policy are brought forth. Denzer goes on to describe major policy "thought leader types", with significant criticisms surrounding each. Then he launches into an exposition on whether the ideas industry “works”. There is a discussion of the business side, more detailed on Clayton Christensen and the theory of disruption ... including how “disruption” hit a pothole with criticisms about whether it was well founded and its (in)applicability outside of business.
Second last short chapter is on tweeting, retweeting, online debates. Interesting anecdotes, not insights you can use. Last one is a recap of views found throughout the book. The book is readable because filled with real stories to illustrate points, sometimes more than needed, entertaining throughout.
It's worth your time but don't look for anything you can put to immediate use.