Political Research Quarterly
Information is a critically important, yet hard to measure, component on policy innovation across state governments. Widespread use of broadband has made it easier for governments to observe other actors, increasing the amount of policy information, while also diversifying the sources of information available to policymakers. This should translate into making governments more innovative over time and quicker to adapt to challenges. At the same time, the Internet may disrupt previous existing flows of information by decreasing the importance of geographic proximity and creating more nationalized or global information networks. We argue that the growth of broadband has made states more innovative over time, while also reducing the reliance on neighboring state adoptions for policy solutions as the information environment becomes both richer and more nationalized. We estimate a pooled event history analysis on hundreds of policies comparing the treatment period (2000–2016) with a control condition (last two decades of the 20th century) and find that states with higher broadband subscriptions are more innovative overall and less reliant on geographic contiguity for policy solutions. The growth of information flows due to digital communications has led to states becoming more innovative while also operating in a more nationalized network.
broadband, diffusion, information, public policy
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LaCombe, Scott J.; Tolbert, Caroline; and Mossberger, Karen, "Information and Policy Innovation in U.S. States" (2021). Government: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.