Management Innovation and Policy Diffusion through Leadership Transfer Networks : An Agent Network Diffusion Model

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457–474
Journal / PublicationJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number4
Online published30 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2018


Although scholars of policy diffusion have explored the effects of learning, competition, and geographic proximity in the diffusion process, extant theories have not paid enough attention to the roles of the change agents. This study proposes an Agent Network Diffusion (AND) model that explicitly models how leadership transfer networks, a complex system of public managers’ career paths, could potentially channel the diffusion of performance innovations. With longitudinal data on government leaders and energy governance performance in Chinese provinces, we empirically test the Portable Innovation Hypotheses using Spatial Autoregressive Models with Temporal Lags. The results demonstrate that leadership transfer networks channel performance innovation between locations where managers served/serve, especially when the institutional environments are similar between the locations. This study contributes to the literature on policy diffusion, management performance, and policy networks by proposing and testing a network-based explanation for policy diffusion with novel empirical methods.

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