Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration


Public Administration

Major Advisor

Nicholas (Luke) Fowler, Ph.D.


Gregory Hill, Ph.D.


Stephen M. Utych, Ph.D.


The policy process emphasizes various stages of policy development and implementation. Essential to the stages within the policy process are the individuals who create, implement, and correct public policy. Employing three separate essays, I examine the actions of legislators, street-level bureaucrats (teachers, law enforcement, and social workers), and a policy entrepreneur in regards to child abuse prevention and education policies. These three groups of actors play a valuable role within the policy process and have various incentives which drive their actions in regards to a policy. Better understanding the incentives and actions of these groups expands the policy research and provides a practical application to policy design and implementation. With these essays, I first investigate why legislators adopt mandatory child abuse reporting laws and demonstrate if these laws meet their legislative objective. Second, I examine the reporting laws from the perspective of street-level bureaucrats and reveal how these bureaucrats respond to a top-down policy. Finally, I explore the factors of policy innovation and diffusion in regards to a child abuse prevention and education policy. Significant to this study is the role a policy entrepreneur plays in steering the policy through the innovation and diffusion process. Employing various statistical models, I establish how each of these groups of individuals significantly influences the policy process. Overall, the contributions of these studies advance the public policy literature, particularly the understanding of the policy process, and encourages further academic research.