Political Science ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2021



A fundamental policy choice in economic development among local policy makers is the appropriate mix of “outside” strategies that use incentives to attract companies, and “inside” strategies that invest in smaller and local businesses. Using a mixed-methods research design, including national and state surveys along with qualitative analysis of interviews conducted with policy elites, I examine the role of ideology, elites, community, competition, social capital (trust and influence), and electoral politics in these policy decisions. I use new descriptive theoretical frameworks called “recruitment machines” and “Political Return on Investment (PROI)” to describe how and why local elected officials support outside strategies despite the negative reviews of the strategy’s efficacy. I find that while ideology, competition and elites often affect the policy process, community involvement can play a significant role. I provide policy recommendations to better involve community in economic development decisions and more responsibly oversee the use of incentives.

Degree Name

Political Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Political Science

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Gabe Sanchez

Second Committee Member

Dr. Tim Krebs

Third Committee Member

Dr. Jami Nelson Nuñez

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Claudia Isaac

Document Type