Plug Power: Social Movements and Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in California, 1995-2012

Sunasir Dutta, Hayagreeva Rao, Ion Vasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Do social movement organizations increase the supply of a public good? We address this question by investigating the role of generalist social movement organizations (SMOs) and technology-focused organizations (TSMOs) for the development of the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in California from 1995 until 2012. We conducted interviews with electric auto enthusiasts to understand evangelism and their relationship with the environmental movement. We also conducted quantitative analyses and employed control function approaches to address issues of endogeneity. We find that increases in the membership of Electric Auto Association (EAA) chapters in the cities of California enhanced the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations set up in each city. Our analyses also show that the organizational diversity of the environmental movement spurred the growth of EAA membership, but did not directly increase the establishment of charging stations. Thus, we find evidence for an institutional ‘relay’ between SMOs and TSMOs.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-52
Number of pages32
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
StatePublished - 2018


  • Alternative Energy
  • Associations
  • Collective Action
  • Electric vehicles
  • Social Movements
  • Technology
  • diffusion
  • electric cars
  • public goods
  • organizational diversity
  • Sustainability
  • hobbyists


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