This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Study of the Adoption of Digital Government Technology as Public Policy Innovation in the American States




Akers, Eugene

Type of Degree



Political Science


The diffusion of information technology in the public sector presents the opportunity to evaluate the appropriateness of diffusion theory in a combined context of information technology and public policy innovation by studying the diffusion of digital government services within the states. Assuming that existing theory in public policy innovation adequately provides a framework to guide research in technology diffusion in the public sector, this study evaluated commonly tested determinants associated with the diffusion of public policies. Using classical diffusion theory and policy innovation diffusion theory, this study explored the contextual relevance of this theory in examining the adoption of digital government in the states. Studies in the diffusion of public policy innovations generally focus on three primary models: determinants, regionalism (spatial diffusion), and federal interaction. While many diffusion studies focus on the determinants of the innovation, the majority of the public policy innovation studies focus on the determinants of the state. State determinants are generally classified in two broad areas: socio-economic and political. This study examined the adoption of digital government services in each state using socio-economic, political and policy process determinants while introducing additional determinants associated with the general innovativeness and administrative professionalism of the state. This study found a limited correlation of socio-economic and political determinants generally associated with the adoption of public policies as hypothesized, including legislative professionalism. The study found a significant correlation associated with the general innovativeness of the state as operationalized by Walker’s 1969 innovativeness index. Finally, this study found a significant correlation associated with administrative professionalism and the adoption of digital government as an administrative policy. The findings suggest that a state’s tendency for innovation and its administrative professionalism are useful in understanding the adoption of administrative policies and some technology programs adopted on a statewide basis.