A national survey assessing the success of privatization policies in state park agencies

Charles H Brewton, Tennessee State University


This research explores the success of privatization of park facilities initiated by state park agencies. The objectives of the study were to (1) determine if an agency's self-sufficiency is influenced by varying amounts of privatization and (2) determine if perceptions of privatization “success” are influenced by the varying amounts of privatization. State park agency self-sufficiency was defined as the ability of a state park system to generate enough funds from internal operations to cover operating expenses. The perceived “success” rating of privatization policies is compiled from external evaluations of the satisfaction of agency operational goals, satisfaction of agency financial goals, personal feelings of agency success, and agency goals for privatization. The study used a cross-sectional design to test the hypotheses. Primary data for this study were collected by personal interview and by questionnaire from each state park agency by telephone, mail, and e-mail. Secondary data were collected from annual periodicals published by the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). Three indices were created to allow standardized comparison of facilities, privatization levels and privatization density from state to state. The Facilities Index was a composite of eight smaller scales, each based on the eight types of facilities represented in the study. The Privatization Density Index presents an ordinal ranking scale based on the actual numbers of privatized facilities represented in the study. The Privatization Quotient Index reflects the ratio of the privatized state park facilities to total state park facilities. The first hypothesis suggested that states with high levels of privatization would also have high levels of self-sufficiency. In both chi-square and linear regression equations, state park agency self-sufficiency was the dependent variable and the Privatization Density Index was the independent variable. The resulting relationship was significant and negative. Analyzing input from 50 states, the relationship that resulted indicated that higher levels of privatization were accompanied by lower levels of self-sufficiency. The second hypothesis suggested that state park administrators in agencies with high levels of privatization would perceive their agencies as having higher levels of “success” with privatization. Forty-eight state park agency administrators responded to the survey with 35 indicating they had not achieved “success” with privatization. Using the Privatization Density Index as the independent variable, no significant relationship could be established with state park agencies based on privatization levels. Based on the results of this study, privatization of facilities in state parks is not a widely successful public policy.

Subject Area

Public administration|Recreation

Recommended Citation

Charles H Brewton, "A national survey assessing the success of privatization policies in state park agencies" (2001). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3007557.