KTC Student Affiliate Works in Progress Series: Policy diffusion at the institutional and state level

Date & Time Feb 17 2023 12:15 PM - 1:15 PM
Location Robertson Hall
Johnatan Reiss '23
Audience Restricted to Princeton University

KTC Student Affiliates have the opportunity to present their work. Senior politics concentrator Johnatan Reiss presents his ongoing work on why policies diffuse at the institutional and state level, over lunch Friday, February 17, 12:15pm.

"Policy diffusion, the phenomenon in which a policy is adopted by multiple political units sequentially and in short time frames, has been studied by political scientists, sociologists, and social psychologists, who examined the rationale and motivations of policymakers to adopt policies implemented elsewhere. While existing theories offer differing accounts about how and why policies diffuse, they commonly view diffusion as driven by goal-oriented policymakers who seek information on goal-relevant components of policies and make, and execute, policy decisions upon that information. 

"This thesis aims to challenge the often-implicit assumptions made in existing theories about the mechanisms through which this information is first learned and then transmitted to policymakers, and the channels through which information is translated into actionable policy decisions and, consequently, observable outcomes. In existent theories, I argue, within-polity information transmission is implicitly assumed to be non-strategic, and information-to-action mappings are not assumed to be dependent or skewed by within-polity structural characteristics.

"Such implicit assumptions may not sufficiently account for the heterogenous organizational and bureaucratic environments in which policymakers of different polities operate. From a behavioral lens, this thesis aims to expand our understanding of the behaviors of countries and systems in the context of policy diffusion, from a perspective that sees countries as unitary actors to a perspective that understands policymakers as actors within complex organizations. Organizational sources of cross-country and temporal heterogeneity, and their potential effects on observable policy outcomes, are therefore the focus of this comparative organizational perspective on policy diffusion."