Friday, February 17, 2017 - 12:00pm
Penn State Campus: 
University Park
Location or Building Name: 
157 Hosler
Abstract: Public policy scholars have long established the importance of social interactions among policymakers in the policy adoption and diffusion process. As policymakers weigh their options and make complex policy decisions, they look to their peers for cues about policy design and possible outcomes, and often either imitate or emulate their peers in their eventual policy decisions. This presentation focuses on such policy information channels and policy learning in an application of U.S. state energy policy. It first tests existing theories about social influence to explain three distinct stages of the policy diffusion process for the renewable portfolio standard: policy adoption, reinvention, and amendment. It then seeks to expand the literature’s understanding of peer relationships based on a survey of state policymakers and agency officials. Survey data reveal insights about one-way versus two-way peer relationships, the context behind these relationships, and whether states are aware of their degree of influence over other states’ energy policy decisions. Finally, it tests the information gathered via the survey in an empirical study of renewable portfolio standards and electricity deregulation, and proves that this expanded notion of peer relationships is important to the study of energy policy adoption and diffusion.