Volden studies legislative politics and the interaction among political institutions, including within American federalism. His current projects include studies of innovation and policy diffusion across states and localities, and an analysis of the legislative effectiveness of individual members of Congress. He is Co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking.
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Studies the upward spread of local policy experiments and finds that governments are much more likely to adopt local policy innovations only when they have sufficient capacity (professional legislatures) and face substantial political pressure (health organization interest groups).