The Origin and Role of Trust in Local Policy Elites' Perceptions on High Voltage Power Line Installations in the State of Arkansas
Friday, November 13, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The debate over installation of high voltage power lines (HVPLs) has been intense, particularly in Northwest Arkansas. Detractors claim that the installation will negatively affect both the natural environment and the local economy, which contains a large tourism component. By contrast, those in favor of installing HVPLs claim that the installation is necessary in order to reliably support the increasing demand for electric power. Using original data collected from a recent statewide Internet survey of 420 local policy elites in Arkansas, this paper focuses on two key issues. First, we examine local policy elites’ levels of trust toward information provided by various sources and how this influences their policy reasoning with regard to their perceptions of the risks versus benefits of the installation of HVPLs in their communities. Second, we further investigate the origin of policy elites’ aforementioned trust (or lack thereof). For this latter inquiry in particular, we utilize Cultural Theory (CT) to explain how such trust is rooted in policy elites’ cultural worldviews – specifically, hierarchism, fatalism, egalitarianism, and individualism – while considering the effects of other factors claimed by previous literature, including ideology, knowledge, and demographic characteristics. Broader implications for the origin and role of trust in policy elites’ decisions throughout the policymaking process will be discussed.