On Waves, Clusters, and Diffusion: A Conceptual Framework

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, No. 598, pp. 33-51, March 2005

19 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2009

See all articles by Beth A. Simmons

Beth A. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania

Zachary Elkins

University of Texas, Austin

Date Written: March 1, 2005

Abstract

This article makes a conceptual and theoretical contribution to the study of clustered political and economic reforms. Conceptually, we review the use and meaning of the concept of diffusion as well as its related terms. We suggest that the concept be reserved for processes (not outcomes) characterized by a certain uncoordinated interdependence. Theoretically, we identify the principal sources of clustered policy reforms. We then clarify the characteristics specific to diffusion mechanisms and introduce a categorization of such processes. In particular, we make a distinction between two types of diffusion: adaptation and learning. We argue that this categorization adds conceptual clarity and distinguishes mechanisms with distinct substantive consequences.

Keywords: political reform, economic reform, diffusion

Suggested Citation

Simmons, Beth A. and Elkins, Zachary, On Waves, Clusters, and Diffusion: A Conceptual Framework (March 1, 2005). Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, No. 598, pp. 33-51, March 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1518452

Beth A. Simmons (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3501Sansom
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
7817990076 (Phone)

Zachary Elkins

University of Texas, Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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