Community/Agency Trust and Public Involvement in Resource Planning

Jordan W. Smith, Jessica E. Leahy, Dorothy H. Anderson, Mae A. Davenport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


We hypothesize and test a positive relationship between the extent to which local community members trust a management agency and their willingness to engage in resource-related public discourse and involvement. We employ a multilevel generalized mixed model to analyze data collected from five different samples of residents living near managed resource areas. Counter to our proposed hypotheses, results suggest individuals' level of dispositional trust, their belief that management shares similar values as them, and their trust in the moral competency of the management agency were all found to be significantly and negatively related to public involvement in resource-related activities. These findings suggest that the central role of building trust among local constituents within many planning frameworks needs to be reconsidered with consideration given to both the needs of individuals who trust an agency and the desires of distrusting individuals who are more likely to become involved in public involvement efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-471
Number of pages20
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • community/agency relationships
  • trust
  • watershed management


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