The seeds of policy change: Leveraging diffusion to disseminate policy innovations

Frederick J. Boehmke, Abigail Matthews Rury, Bruce A. Desmarais, Jeffrey J. Harden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We conduct a series of simulations to compare how various strategies for seeding a policy in the American states affect the rate at which that policy spreads. Using empirically derived parameters of the policy diffusion process, we simulate the diffusion of a hypothetical policy after seeding the policy in just a handful of states. We compare these strategies to seeding the ten states the RWJF monitored during the states' implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. We attempt to mimic the choices that policy advocates make when deciding which states to target with their resources. Our results indicate that focusing on innovative states, that is, those that tend to adopt new policies faster, offers a valuable boost in the speed of diffusion. Even better, though, is a strategy that targets policy leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-307
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of health politics, policy and law
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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