Factors influencing funding decisions by elected politicians at the state/provincial level : a case study of public libraries in Canada

Stenström, Cheryl Lynn (2012) Factors influencing funding decisions by elected politicians at the state/provincial level : a case study of public libraries in Canada. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The purpose of this study was to determine factors (internal and external) that influenced Canadian provincial (state) politicians when making funding decisions about public libraries. Using the case study methodology, Canadian provincial/state level funding for public libraries in the 2009-10 fiscal year was examined. After reviewing funding levels across the country, three jurisdictions were chosen for the case: British Columbia's budget revealed dramatically decreased funding, Alberta's budget showed dramatically increased funding, and Ontario's budget was unchanged from the previous year. The primary source of data for the case was a series of semi-structured interviews with elected officials and senior bureaucrats from the three jurisdictions. An examination of primary and secondary documents was also undertaken to help set the political and economic context as well as to provide triangulation for the case interviews. The data were analysed to determine whether Cialdini's theory of influence (2001) and specifically any of the six tactics of influence (i.e, commitment and consistency, authority, liking, social proof, scarcity and reciprocity) were instrumental in these budget processes. Findings show the principles of "authority", "consistency and commitment" and "liking" were relevant, and that "liking" were especially important to these decisions. When these decision makers were considering funding for public libraries, they most often used three distinct lenses: the consistency lens (what are my values? what would my party do?), the authority lens (is someone with hierarchical power telling me to do this? are the requests legitimate?), and most importantly, the liking lens (how much do I like and know about the requester?). These findings are consistent with Cialdini's theory, which suggests the quality of some relationships is one of six factors that can most influence a decision maker.

The small number of prior research studies exploring the reasons for increases or decreases in public library funding allocation decisions have given little insight into the factors that motivate those politicians involved in the process and the variables that contribute to these decisions. No prior studies have examined the construct of influence in decision making about funding for Canadian public libraries at any level of government. Additionally, no prior studies have examined the construct of influence in decision making within the context of Canadian provincial politics.

While many public libraries are facing difficult decisions in the face of uncertain funding futures, the ability of the sector to obtain favourable responses to requests for increases may require a less simplistic approach than previously thought. The ability to create meaningful connections with individuals in many communities and across all levels of government should be emphasised as a key factor in influencing funding decisions.

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ID Code: 59510
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Haycock, Ken, Bruce, Christine S., & Partridge, Helen L.
Keywords: advocacy, decision making, case study methodology, Canada, Cialdini, funding, influence, politics, provincial government, public libraries
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Apr 2013 00:34
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 05:25

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