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postgraduate thesis: Environmental information transparency, trust in government and societal preferences for urban river restoration

TitleEnvironmental information transparency, trust in government and societal preferences for urban river restoration
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Chen, WY
Issue Date2019
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Cho, H. T. F. [曹顯廷]. (2019). Environmental information transparency, trust in government and societal preferences for urban river restoration. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractLocal governments across the world responded to a wave of information transparency policies that aim to deliver transparent policymaking and align environmental preferences. These initiatives were mostly successful in Western democracies that have a strong culture of public participation. Will these policies be equally successful in communities without these preconditions? This study exploits a unique case study in China in connection to restoring ecologically fragile urban rivers to explore how citizens’ access to environmental information shapes their trust in government and moulds societal preferences. Rigorous evidence about the link between information transparency, trust in government and environmental preferences can be instructive policies that rely on information transparency to manage environmental problems and align environmental preferences in non-democratic countries. A questionnaire with a discrete choice experiment component was conducted in Shaoguan city, China to address this gap. A series of regression models revealed that the effectiveness of environmental information disclosure is contingent on the medium which it occurs. Although only around half of the sampled population accessed information in the past year, most who did so used various information access and public participatory channels holistically. Passive readers of environmental information were more likely to exhibit positive attitudes towards environmental management and believe that environmental information disclosure can result in positive outcomes. A disproportionate number of residents believe that environmental information disclosure can lead to positive outcomes, even when they do not read it personally. A structural equation model identified how environmental information access, mediated by perceptions of environmental information quality, shapes residents' trust in government. This relationship was much stronger for non-college educated residents compared to college-educated residents. Residents without a college degree use cognitive shortcuts to determine their trust in government -- they trust the government if they perceive positive characteristics in the environmental information they read. In contrast, trust in government among college graduates are more insusceptible to exposure to environmental information. These findings call for dualistic environmental information disclosure that builds trust in government by targeting residents of different educational levels accordingly. The effects of trust in government on societal preferences for river restoration were estimated using a set of discrete choice models. Respondents who accessed information passively tend to have rational preferences for river restoration. On the other hand, respondents either act as non-supporters or fail to lucidly convey their preferences if they have actively collected environmental information via two-way interactive communications. When residents express distrust towards the government’s competence, they decide their willingness-to-pay strategically based on how challenging it is to achieve the promised outcomes. The impact of information transparency on trust in government and societal preferences for environmental management depends on the medium which information is presented, residents' prior knowledge, and latent attitudes held by respondents. Policymakers have a unique opportunity to align environmental management outcomes with public preferences if they can capitalise upon the opportunities afforded by nascent information transparency policies. But at the same time, substantial risks arise if environmental information is not communicated accurately to the public.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectStream restoration - China
Dept/ProgramGeography
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/279279

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorChen, WY-
dc.contributor.authorCho, Hin Ting Frankie-
dc.contributor.author曹顯廷-
dc.date.accessioned2019-10-24T08:28:44Z-
dc.date.available2019-10-24T08:28:44Z-
dc.date.issued2019-
dc.identifier.citationCho, H. T. F. [曹顯廷]. (2019). Environmental information transparency, trust in government and societal preferences for urban river restoration. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/279279-
dc.description.abstractLocal governments across the world responded to a wave of information transparency policies that aim to deliver transparent policymaking and align environmental preferences. These initiatives were mostly successful in Western democracies that have a strong culture of public participation. Will these policies be equally successful in communities without these preconditions? This study exploits a unique case study in China in connection to restoring ecologically fragile urban rivers to explore how citizens’ access to environmental information shapes their trust in government and moulds societal preferences. Rigorous evidence about the link between information transparency, trust in government and environmental preferences can be instructive policies that rely on information transparency to manage environmental problems and align environmental preferences in non-democratic countries. A questionnaire with a discrete choice experiment component was conducted in Shaoguan city, China to address this gap. A series of regression models revealed that the effectiveness of environmental information disclosure is contingent on the medium which it occurs. Although only around half of the sampled population accessed information in the past year, most who did so used various information access and public participatory channels holistically. Passive readers of environmental information were more likely to exhibit positive attitudes towards environmental management and believe that environmental information disclosure can result in positive outcomes. A disproportionate number of residents believe that environmental information disclosure can lead to positive outcomes, even when they do not read it personally. A structural equation model identified how environmental information access, mediated by perceptions of environmental information quality, shapes residents' trust in government. This relationship was much stronger for non-college educated residents compared to college-educated residents. Residents without a college degree use cognitive shortcuts to determine their trust in government -- they trust the government if they perceive positive characteristics in the environmental information they read. In contrast, trust in government among college graduates are more insusceptible to exposure to environmental information. These findings call for dualistic environmental information disclosure that builds trust in government by targeting residents of different educational levels accordingly. The effects of trust in government on societal preferences for river restoration were estimated using a set of discrete choice models. Respondents who accessed information passively tend to have rational preferences for river restoration. On the other hand, respondents either act as non-supporters or fail to lucidly convey their preferences if they have actively collected environmental information via two-way interactive communications. When residents express distrust towards the government’s competence, they decide their willingness-to-pay strategically based on how challenging it is to achieve the promised outcomes. The impact of information transparency on trust in government and societal preferences for environmental management depends on the medium which information is presented, residents' prior knowledge, and latent attitudes held by respondents. Policymakers have a unique opportunity to align environmental management outcomes with public preferences if they can capitalise upon the opportunities afforded by nascent information transparency policies. But at the same time, substantial risks arise if environmental information is not communicated accurately to the public.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshStream restoration - China-
dc.titleEnvironmental information transparency, trust in government and societal preferences for urban river restoration-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineGeography-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2019-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044158738203414-

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