Daniel J Mallinson

Penn State Harrisburg
School of Public Affairs

777 W. Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA
mallinson@psu.edu |  Visit Personal Website

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My primary research focus is on the diffusion of policy innovations among the American states. Specifically, I primarily examine the macro-level dynamics of innovation diffusion using large-n analyses. I have also completed research projects on a range of policy-specific topics, from energy to drug policy. I am currently collaborating with Lee Hannah on researching medical marijuana laws, their spread and adaptation by states, and connections with the opioid epidemic. My core interest, though is the intersection of energy and environmental policy.

Mallinson, D.J. 2016. Schoolyard Politics: Measuring and Explaining Variation in State Anti-bullying Policy Comprehensiveness. State and Local Government Review 48(2): 100-113.
Abstract: Bullying is a vexing social and policy problem in the United States. Education scholars consistently advocate for comprehensive antibullying policies; however, the forty-nine states that have adopted antibullying programs vary in their embrace of this approach. This article addresses the question of why this is the case. First, it provides a new measure of bullying policy comprehensiveness using item response theory. Second, it examines how social and demographic characteristics, as well as neighbor-state policies, relate to this new measure. I find that a state’s support for enumerated groups and the availability of slack financial resources are the strongest explanations for variation in antibullying measures. There is also weak evidence consistent with a backlash effect, whereby states whose neighbors have more comprehensive policies adopt less comprehensive legislation. Thus, bullying policies are driven, in part, by state responsiveness to vulnerable populations but are also constrained by the realities of finite resources.
URL: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0160323X16655383
Mallinson, D. J. 2014. Upstream Influence: The Positive Impact of PAC Contributions on Marcellus Shale Roll Call Votes in Pennsylvania. Interest Groups & Advocacy 3(3): 293-314.
Abstract: Political scientists have long tried to explain how interest group lobbying and political action committee campaign donations affect election outcomes and public policy debates. Unfortunately, they are often met with null or conflicting results. Consequently, scholars have tested the influence of campaign donations on Congressional outcomes in different parts of the policy-making process, such as roll call votes and committee hearings. Building on these findings, I use the adoption of a Marcellus Shale impact fee in Pennsylvania to test whether campaign contributions have a different effect on bill amendment roll call votes than final floor votes. Given the differing political contexts of these two votes, it stands to reason that there is variation in the relationship between campaign donations and member voting behavior. Specifically, I expect that legislators have more flexibility in voting on amendments than on final bills, and thus factors other than party, including campaign funding, are also relevant. I find that while party, ideology and tenure are the only significant factors associated with roll call votes on final bills, campaign contributions and local-level salience are positively associated with voting on amendments. This shows that while moneyed interests may not be successful in stopping undesirable legislation, they can achieve legislative victory by shaping the bill as it travels through the legislature.
URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057%2Figa.2014.3
Mallinson, D. J. 2016. Building a Better Speed Trap: Measuring Policy Adoption Speed in the American States. State Politics & Policy Quarterly 16(1): 98-120.
Abstract: A comparative approach to studying the spread of policy innovations has recently yielded new and interesting results, as well as theoretical advancements, for policy diffusion research. Specifically, punctuated equilibrium theory has been offered as an explanation for why some policies spread quickly, while others do so normally, and still others are adopted very slowly. Studies of adoption speed, however, currently rely on careful case selection or a dichotomous categorization of adoptions as fast or slow to test why policies diffuse at different speeds. Building on this foundational work, I propose a method for measuring adoption speed as a continuous concept, so that it can be modeled directly as an important outcome of interest to diffusion scholars. I then use the new measure to evaluate how adoption speed varies across time and policy domain. I further demonstrate the utility of the measure as a dependent variable by replicating past results, including the interactive effect of complexity and salience on adoption speed and positive effect of federal incentives, as well as finding preliminary evidence that policy clusters spread more rapidly than the average stand-alone policy.
URL: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1532440015596088
Hannah, A. Lee. and D.J. Mallinson. In Press. “Defiant Innovation: The Adoption of Medical Marijuana Laws in the American States.” Policy Studies Journal.
Abstract: Diffusion research often characterizes the role of the federal government in innovation adoption as a supportive one, either increasing the likelihood of adoption or its speed. We examine the adoption of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) from 1996 to 2014 to shed light on what motivates states to adopt innovations that are in explicit defiance of federal law. Furthermore, we examine whether federal signals have any influence on the likelihood of adoption. In doing so, we utilize implementation theory to expand our understanding of how the federal government's position impacts state policy innovation adoption. We find mixed evidence for the influence of federal signals on the adoption of MMLs. The results suggest that medical marijuana policies are much more likely to be adopted in states when proponents have the political or institutional capital, rather than a medical or fiscal need. Moreover, this political capital is sufficient independent of the federal government's real or perceived position.
URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/psj.12211/abstract

Substantive Focus:
Energy and Natural Resource Policy SECONDARY
Environmental Policy
Health Policy
Comparative Public Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY