Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

David C. Earnest

Committee Member

Steve A. Yetiv

Committee Member

David D. Selover


This study examines the global diffusion of renewable energy policies: feed-in tariffs (FIT) and renewable portfolio standards (RPS). Existing studies of policy diffusion have failed to differentiate between four possible mechanisms of policy diffusion: emulation, suasion, learning and competition. To test these competing explanations, the study uses a mixed-method research design that combines statistical analysis of time-series cross-sectional data with an agent-based model of diffusion processes. The findings of the statistical analysis show strong support for the suasion (European Union Membership, Clean Development Mechanisms) and emulation mechanisms (cultural similarity or common language) in the diffusion of FIT. In the diffusion of RPS there is strong support for suasion mechanism (European Union Membership and Clean Development Mechanisms), and emulation (common colonial history and language similarity). There is no support and weak support for competition and learning respectively. The study identifies future areas for research on the emulation, suasion, learning and competition mechanisms.


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