Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Policy Actor Beliefs and Behaviors in Contentious Policy Debates: Examining Policy Actors within the Statewide, Fracking Subsystems of Colorado, Texas, and New York
by Gallaher, Samuel Ballou, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Denver, 2017, 265; 10608223
Abstract (Summary)

The goal of this dissertation is to address three areas in the policy process literature that require clarification. First, it examines how a policy actor’s deep and policy core beliefs translate into secondary beliefs. To do so, the research models the effect of an individual’s view of government in daily life and their policy belief towards fracking on their secondary belief of which level of government should regulate an issue. Second, the research examines how a policy actor’s policy core beliefs affect a behavior called venue shopping. The research asks how policy actors’ belief towards the policy status quo affects their shopping activity level, and how their beliefs toward decision makers influence venue selection. Third, the research examines local governmental representatives as policy actors in a state-level policy subsystem. Policy process research identifies local government representatives within advocacy coalitions, but little is known about how local governmental actors compare to other advocates in the coalitions. The research uses the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) as an analytical and theoretical foundation and applies other policy process and organizational theories to inform its hypotheses. I use multiple quantitative data modeling techniques to explore each question. Data for the research is from original surveys of policy actors in state-level hydraulic fracturing subsystems in Colorado, Texas, and New York. Findings indicate policy actors’ deep core and policy core beliefs significantly influence their secondary beliefs. However, deep core beliefs have a greater effect on secondary beliefs related to more abstract issues, such as air quality, and less on more concrete issues, such as the distance a well should be from other structures. The venue shopping models indicate policy actors who oppose the policy status quo shop more venues than those who align with the status quo. Additionally, the strongest indicator of which venue a policy actor shops is not their beliefs toward the decision makers, but their other shopping choices. Finally, analyses show local governments are a unique group within and across coalitions because of their network relationships and they align with one another on a set of policy core beliefs, but are also divided among pro and anti-fracking coalitions on other policy core beliefs. Overall, this dissertation shows the ACF provides a theoretical and analytical frame to examine policy actor beliefs and behavior, but additional theories and sub-groupings of policy actors are needed to explain nuances in policy actor dynamics.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Heikkila, Tanya, Weible, Chris M.
Commitee: Feiock, Richard, Heikkila, Tanya, Jacob, Benoy, Weible, Chris M.
School: University of Colorado at Denver
Department: Public Affairs
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, Public administration, Energy
Keywords: ACF, Advocacy Coalition Framework, Beliefs, Contentious politics, Local government, Venue shopping
Publication Number: 10608223
ISBN: 9780355139228
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