Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Damian Pitt

Second Advisor

Dr. John Mahoney

Third Advisor

Dr. Robyn McDougle

Fourth Advisor

Dr. John Aughenbaugh




By Brian T. Toibin, Ph.D.

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Virginia Commonwealth University, 2018.

Major Director: Dr. Damian Pitt

Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

The purpose of this study was to explore two particular cross-ideological coalitions that have formed in order to promote pro-solar power policies in Georgia and Florida through the lens of the Advocacy Coalition Framework. The membership of the coalitions include individuals and organizations from opposite sides of the current prevailing ideological spectrum which united to support pro-solar policies for reasons that are consistent with their ideological worldview. The coalition in Georgia is known as the Green Tea Coalition and the coalition in Florida is known as Floridians for Solar Choice.

This qualitative study was guided by the following questions: 1) Why did supporters of solar power organize themselves into the particular coalition structures represented by Georgia’s Green Tea Coalition and the Floridians for Solar Choice Coalition?; 2) How have Georgia’s Green Tea Coalition and the Floridians for Solar Choice Coalition successfully managed their policy coalitions?; 3) How effective are these coalitions perceived to be by public policy players outside the coalitions?; 4) Do the Green Tea Coalition and the Floridians for Solar Choice Coalition represent an Advocacy Coalition approach?

Engaging these questions through the effective theoretical lens of the Advocacy Coalition Framework revealed a compelling example of cross-ideological cooperation within an increasingly divided political culture. Significant lessons concerning the formation and successful operation of coalitions were learned. The importance of strategic alliances, public belief systems, policy messaging, electorate education, policy learning, and careful political positioning are a few of the factors that enabled these coalitions to find success. The political success of these coalitions significantly advanced the role that solar power will be allowed to play in the future energy portfolio of these two influential states in the American South and across the country.

While the positive results for the future of solar power engineered by the coalitions are impressive, perhaps the most important lessons revealed by the study concern the potential for progress and cooperation on other complex issues. A portfolio of difficult issues awaits action by persons of good faith willing to find a cooperative path on which to move forward. Coalitions will be required to address many of these difficult problems. The lessons and example provided by these two cross-ideological coalitions may help others produce a their own blueprint to encourage cross-ideological cooperation. This cooperation will be required if progress is to be made for the well being of current and future generations.


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