Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Retarded in Texas: A Case of State Policy Innovation
Steven Laubacher and Malcolm L. Goggin
Studies of policy innovation in the American states have long recognized that some states are more innovative than others when it comes to adopting and implementing new public policies. 1 States, like New York, California, and Wisconsin, are usually early adopters, or "pioneers." Other states, such as Mississippi and Alabama, are frequently followers, or "laggards." A number of methodologically sophisticated aggregate statistical studies designed to explain differences in the nature and timing of policy innovation across the American states have identified several predictor variables, some internal and others external to the state.
These explanatory variables include: (1) the degree to which the state's electorate holds liberal views; (2) the level of resources available to the state; (3) the strength and composition of the state legislature; (4) the level of administrative capacity; (5) the degree of problem severity in the state; (6) the region of the country in which the state is located; and, (7) the extent to which neighboring states are early adopters. 2 While these studies can indicate central tendencies, they are not able to isolate, in any detail, some of the idiosyncrasies that might account for successful (or unsuccessful) innovation in particular states.