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date: 28 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on Jack L. Walker’s 1969 paper “The Diffusion of Innovations among the American States,” which analyzes the phenomenon of diffusion as well as interdependent decision-making in a collective setting. The chapter summarizes Walker’s arguments and the reception of his work in, and its influence on, the field of political science. It then considers the research questions posed, such as why some states act as pioneers by adopting new programs more readily than others, and whether there are more or less stable patterns of diffusion of innovations. It also revisits Walker’s debate with Virginia Gray with regards to the latter’s seminal study “Innovation in the States: A Diffusion Study.” The chapter offers some suggestions on the future progress of diffusion scholarship and its potential to redefine our understanding of politics and policy.

Keywords: Jack L. Walker, politics, public policy, decision-making, political science, diffusion of innovations, Virginia Gray

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