Social Network Analysis and the Diffusion of the Strict Liability Rule for Manufacturing Defects, 1963-87
Robert C. Bird
University of Connecticut - Department of Marketing
Donald J. Smythe
California Western School of Law
February 22, 2011
Law & Social Inquiry, Forthcoming
This article reports the results of a study that uses social network analysis to compare the persuasiveness of legal precedents in the diffusion of the strict liability rule for manufacturing defects. This new study tests which legal precedents were most influential and also whether certain state judicial variables influenced the diffusion process. The results are striking. The federal circuit regions appear to define an important reference group in the diffusion process and social network effects dominate economic and political variables. In addition, the de facto separation of powers in the enactment of new state legislation appears to influence courts’ propensities to adopt the strict liability rule. When the executive and legislative branches were controlled by the same political party – regardless of whether it was the Republican or Democratic Party – state courts were more inclined to adopt the strict liability rule.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 47
Keywords: Social Network Analysis, Legal Precedents, Judicial Discretion, Manufacturing Defects, Products Liability
JEL Classification: K10, K13, K20Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: February 23, 2011 ; Last revised: March 4, 2011
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