Mallinson's research focuses on policy diffusion, drug policy, environmental policy, energy policy, and pedagogy. Overarching themes in Mallinson's writings include both general and contextual patterns of spreading policy innovations, the use of policy theories to understand state-level marijuana liberalization in the United States, and developing innovative methods for teaching future public servants. Mallinson serves on the Central Pennsylvania Steering Committee of Draw the Lines, a public redistricting education project.
Studies how patterns of policy diffusion changed from 1960 through 2010 Finds that while geographic proximity to past adopters remains an important factor, ideological cues from past adopters increasingly rivaled geographic proximity, particularly in the 1980s and 2000s.
Examines the interactive relationships between political polarization, direct democracy, ideological cues, and medical marijuana adoption. Finds that ideology served as an important cue for highly polarized states that had direct democracy mechanisms available.
Examines defiance by the states against the federal government in the area of medical marijuana policy adoption. Finds that ideology and direct democracy played key roles in the spread of this innovation.
Demonstrates the potential for using a career-focused course to increase self efficacy and career confidence among students interested in public service careers.
Finds that the speed by which innovations are spreading among the U.S. states has increased greatly since the 1960s. Confirms that issue salience increases adoption speed, whereas issue complexity slows adoptions.