August 25, 2009
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Do legislators learn to use new communication technologies from each other? Using data from the official homepages of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, we test whether web-based communication technology diffuses through congressional state delegations. We use a natural experimental design that exploits ignorable state boundaries to distinguish between causal diffusion processes and spatial heterogeneity. Using nonlinear conditional autoregressive models for the statistical test, we find that web communication technology practices are weakly driven by communication within state delegations, and with the effect slightly more pronounced among Democrats than among Republicans.