The Structure of American Legal Institutions and the Diffusion of Wrongful-Discharge Laws, 1978-99

Law and Society Review, Forthcoming

43 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2008 Last revised: 8 Nov 2015

Donald J. Smythe

California Western School of Law

Robert C. Bird

University of Connecticut - School of Business

Abstract

This article evaluates how the social structure of American legal institutions influenced the diffusion of wrongful-discharge laws over the period from 1978-1999 and assesses whether economic or political variables influenced the diffusion process. The results are surprising and quite striking. Precedents by other courts within the same federal circuit region were generally more influential in the diffusion process than precedents by courts in neighboring states or by courts within the same census or West legal reporting region, even though the precedents were on matters of state law rather than federal law and the decisions were usually made by state courts rather than federal courts. There is some evidence that political variables may also have been a factor, but economic variables did not appear to be particularly important, even though the new employment laws may have had important economic consequences.

Keywords: Employment-at-Will, Wrongful-Discharge, Social Networks, Legal Precedents, Network Effects

JEL Classification: K12, K31, K40

Suggested Citation

Smythe, Donald J. and Bird, Robert C., The Structure of American Legal Institutions and the Diffusion of Wrongful-Discharge Laws, 1978-99. Law and Society Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1086432

Donald J. Smythe (Contact Author)

California Western School of Law ( email )

225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
United States

Robert C. Bird

University of Connecticut - School of Business ( email )

368 Fairfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-2041
United States

HOME PAGE: http://businesslaw.business.uconn.edu/robert-bird/

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