The Advocacy Coalition Framework: the Tennessee Hall Income Tax Case Study

Victor K Ntembo, Tennessee State University


The Stages Heuristics Model (Laswell, 1957) was the primary method to study the policy process for several decades. This model had its shortcomings. The Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) provides an alternate method of studying the policy process (Sabatier, 1988). The theory has been used in different fields to include Environmental Science, Human Rights, Public Administration, and Economics. The theory has constantly been revised by its authors to correct identified weaknesses. This case study research uses the ACF to analyze the repeal of Tennessee’s Hall income tax. The research focuses on the beliefs, resources, and strategies of advocacy coalition groups as they advocate to repeal the Hall income tax. This work identifies two advocacy coalition groups: The pro-Hall income tax repeal advocacy coalition and the anti-Hall income tax repeal advocacy coalition. The study further explores if the four causes of policy change identified by the ACF were a factor in this case study. These causes of policy change are internal shocks, external shocks, policy-oriented learning, and negotiated agreements. The study tests six hypotheses, five of them from the ACF and one written by me for this research. This qualitative study uses content analysis to evaluate data from interviews, archives of legislative bills, newspaper articles, and other publications. The Hall income tax was instituted in 1929 and named after Senator Hall of Dickson, Tennessee. From 1997 to 2020, 146 legislative bills were proposed to make changes to the Hall income tax. Only 14 of the proposed bills became law. Public Chapter 1064 signed on May 20, 2016, by Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee is the law that phased out the Hall income tax. Several advocacy groups including the Beacon Center of Tennessee, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Tax Foundation either lobbied, made publications, or financed advocacy campaigns to fight for the repeal of the tax. This study confirms that the ACF is an effective theory for studying public policy.

Subject Area

Public administration|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Victor K Ntembo, "The Advocacy Coalition Framework: the Tennessee Hall Income Tax Case Study" (2021). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI28319706.