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Patterns of Adoption of Tort Law Innovations: An Application of Diffusion Theory to Judicial Doctrines

Bradley C. Canon and Lawrence Baum
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 75, No. 4 (Dec., 1981), pp. 975-987
DOI: 10.2307/1962297
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1962297
Page Count: 13
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Patterns of Adoption of Tort Law Innovations: An Application of Diffusion Theory to Judicial Doctrines
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Abstract

Social scientists have given increasing attention to the diffusion of policy innovations among the American states, focusing on the legislative and administrative sectors. This study is an effort to expand our understanding of policy diffusion by analyzing the diffusion of 23 innovative tort doctrines among state court systems between 1876 and 1975. This analysis examines the innovativeness of state judicial systems, the correlates of innovativeness, and the pattern of diffusion. The findings suggest that the diffusion of judicial doctrines is a very different process from the diffusion of legislation. A major reason for the difference appears to be the courts' dependence on litigants to provide opportunities for innovation.

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