Dynamics of Diffusion: Conceptions of American Federalism and Public-Sector Innovation


John D. Donahue, February 2006 

In a phrase coined by Lord Bryce and popularized by Justice Louis Brandeis, America's separate states are seen as “laboratories of democracy,“ giving the United States 50 channels for generating fresh new approaches to public problems. The potential advantages are apparent. But how fully this potential is realized depends on how rapidly and reliably innovations developed in each “laboratory“ diffuse to other states. As the literature on the diffusion of innovations is limited, the archives of the Innovations in American Government Awards offer a promising but mostly untapped data set for exploring the replication of valuable innovations. In this publication, Donahue identifies state-level award winners and traces the pace and pattern of their diffusion.

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