Publications on Controversial Facility Siting
Hatoko Comes Home: Civil Society and Nuclear Power in Japan (with Martin Dusinberre) (Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 70, No. 3 (August) 2011: 1–23)
This article seeks to explain how, given Japan’s “nuclear allergy” following World War II, a small coastal town not far from Hiroshima volunteered to host a nuclear power plant in the early 1980s. Where standard explanations of contentious nuclear power siting decisions have focused on the regional power utilities and the central government, this paper instead examines the importance of historical change and civil society at a local level. Using a microhistorical approach based on interviews and archival materials, and framing our discussion with a popular Japanese television show known as Hatoko’s Sea, we illustrate the agency of municipal actors in the decision-making process. In this way, we highlight the significance of long-term economic transformations, demographic decline, and vertical social networks in local invitations to controversial facilities. These perspectives are particularly important in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis, as the outside world seeks to understand how and why Japan embraced atomic energy.
Strong Civil Society as a Double-Edged Sword: Siting Trailers in Post-Katrina New Orleans (Political Research Quarterly Vol. 61 No. 3 September 2008 pp. 379-389). Initially published as a Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Working Paper 06-11, December 2006 (with Kevin Crook). To meet the standards for replication set by Gary King and other methodologists, the data for this study can be found at the Harvard University IQSS Dataverse.
To meet the dire need for housing created by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans and the staff of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worked to create lists of potential sites for trailer parks. This procedure took place within an environment of Not In My Back Yard-ism, or NIMBYism, where a number of communities and individuals expressed their opposition to hosting such trailer sites both publicly and privately. We analyze the final list of city-approved sites to track which factors were correlated with larger (or smaller) numbers of trailers and trailer sites per zip code bloc. Our data show that areas which displayed greater levels of social capital, as evidenced by voluntaristic activities such as turning out to vote, were slated for fewer trailers, controlling for race, income, flood damage, area, population density, and other relevant factors. Despite theories uncritically connecting denser social capital with more rapid rebuilding, areas of strong civil society weakened the city’s ability to recover quickly by forcing it to invest more effort in locating amenable sites for temporary housing.
Author’s Reflections in Centerpiece (Fall 2007 p. 13). This piece reviews core themes in my book Site Fights, including the ways in which the strength of civil society impacts state plans involving controversial facilities.
Location, Location, Location: Selecting Sites for Controversial Facilities (Singapore Economic Review Vol. 53 No. 1 April 2008 pp. 145-172 ). To meet the standards for replication set by Gary King and other methodologists, the data for this study can be found at the Harvard University IQSS Dataverse.
While a large literature exists on the siting of controversial facilities, few theories about spatial location have been tested on large samples. Using a new dataset from Japan, this paper demonstrates that state agencies choose localities judged weakest in local civil society as host communities for controversial projects. In some cases, powerful politicians deliberately seek to have facilities such as nuclear power plants, dams, and airports placed in their home constituency. This paper then explores new territory: how demographic, political, and civil society factors impact the outcomes of siting attempts. It finds that the strength of local civil society impacts the probability that a proposed project will come to fruition; the greater the concentration of local civil society, the less likely state-planned projects will be completed.
Book Review of Regulating Infrastructure by Jose Gomez-Ibanez (Journal of Politics Volume 20 Issue 4 October 2007 pp. 703-705)
For Gomez-Ibanez, infrastructure provision is a problem of long-term contracting and he openly states his preference for private contracts in these sectors. He outlines four strategies for regulating infrastructure monopolies ranging from marked-based approaches based on private contracts, to concession contracts, discretionary regulation, and finally publicly owned and operated enterprises. Through diverse comparative case studies covering extended historical periods, Gomez-Ibanez seeks to demonstrate that non-market-based policies often result in market inefficiencies which undermine regulatory regimes as prices rise. In some cases, this leads to state intervention, such as the expropriation and nationalization of private enterprises. Although recognizing that not all environments are conducive to private enterprise, the book only details private market-based cases and not public enterprises.
Controversial Facility Siting: State Policy Instruments and Flexibility Journal of Comparative Politics, Volume 38, Number 1, pp. 103 – 123, October 2005
All states struggle to construct controversial facilities which focus costs asymmetrically on local communities while providing benefits to the larger population. The policy instruments employed by state agencies in carrying out these tasks and their plasticity under such pressure from citizens vary widely, with some bureaucracies remaining wedded to older, coercive tools and others developing new policy instruments which alter citizen preferences. The five books under review represent the newest literature that addresses the issue of state handling and management of contentious civil society. They inform our understanding of how authorities relate to opposition and underscore the need to analyze states not in terms of strength or weakness, but rather flexibility and rigidity.
Not in My Back Yard: How State Agencies Handle Conflict WCFIA Centerpiece Winter / Spring 2005
This brief article provides a precis of my dissertation research. It argues that state bureaucracies decide upon locations for public bads using a political logic, selecting those localities with weak or weakening opponents and strong supporters. It also argues that tool use in handling opposition depends upon the time horizon of the state and the size of its civil society opponents.
The Limits of Flexible and Adaptive Institutions: The Japanese Government’s Role in Nuclear Power Plant Siting over the Post War Period
Managing Facility Siting edited by S. Hayden Lesbirel and Daigee Shaw (book chapter, May 2005)
This chapter systematically examines the Japanese government’s deliberate creation of institutions and strategies designed to alter citizen preferences and reduce resistance to often controversial facilities. I show that the Japanese state not only created such strategies in an attempt to smooth the siting of nuclear power plants and other large scale facilities, but continually upgraded and refined these tools as it learned from its experiences. My results support previous work which found that bureaucratic and political leaders in democracies are not swayed by public opinion; instead, they attempt to sway it.
In My Back Yard, Please: An Analysis of the Siting and Success of Public Bads in Japan Weatherhead Center for International Affairs working paper 05-01, March 2005
This paper examines how the concentration of special interest groups affects the placement and success of controversial facilities. It argues that authorities site public bads — nuclear power plants, dams, and airports — in locations where, especially in the long term, there are fewer pressure groups who oppose such facilities and more who support them. The presence of powerful politicians and worsening first sector employment increases the likelihood that a public bad will be placed in a locality. The placement of an initial public bad in an area overcomes an opposition threshold and makes additional sitings far easier than “greenfields” siting attempts. Using a new dataset on Japan involving approximately 500 observations of villages and towns over the post war period, this paper reveals that special interest groups become more involved in facilities associated with higher levels of risk and that non-political factors, such as higher population density and smaller town size, only occasionally demonstrate exclusionary effects.
Siting Schemes: Central Governments, State Learning, and Local “Public Bads” Social Science Japan Number 26 (May 2003)
This article provides a short overview of my dissertation research on how states handle the siting of controversial facilities.