Bargaining of beliefs : agencies, advocacy groups, and the evolution of pesticide regulatory reform
Greitens, Thomas J.
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The policy beliefs of advocacy groups, policymakers, and other interested individuals help to shape public policy. Yet, policy beliefs are rarely used in policy analyses. This dissertation changes that by examining the role of policy beliefs in pesticide regulatory reform in the 1980s and 1990s. Important concepts explored in this analysis of pesticide regulatory reform include: a determination of whether the policy core beliefs of like-minded advocacy groups possess enough uniformity to justify categorization of these groups into larger advocacy coalitions, an identification of the process by which an advocacy coalition’s secondary policy beliefs toward pesticide regulations change over time, an examination of whether compromises in secondary policy beliefs among advocacy coalitions are associated with policy change, and an investigation into whether stronger advocacy coalitions influence compromises in secondary policy beliefs among weaker advocacy coalitions. Examining these concepts reveals the role of policy beliefs in shaping public policy. In addition, the answers to these questions help to compare two policy theories: the Advocacy Coalition Framework and Punctuated Equilibrium. The findings help integrate key concepts from the Advocacy Coalition Framework and Punctuated Equilibrium to forge a new level of policy analysis that explores how the policy beliefs of advocacy groups change. By analyzing the debates over pesticide regulatory reform in the 1980s and 1990s, this dissertation finds that the policy beliefs of consumer-environmental advocacy groups exhibit a punctuated equilibrium pattern. In essence, these groups incorporate pro-agribusiness beliefs when a change in pesticide regulations seems imminent. This suggests that proenvironmental groups bargain with their beliefs in attempts to influence pesticide regulations. Other findings examine key tenets of both the Advocacy Coalition Framework and the Punctuated Equilibrium model through time-series analyses, group comparison tests, and interviews with agency personnel and advocacy groups. Overall, these findings indicate that the need for policy reform often drives compromises in policy beliefs and that advocacy groups often use policy beliefs to directly influence other advocacy groups.