The Voluntary Ozone Action Campaign Case Study
Communication can be defined as the swapping of information between beings. The term being refers to both humans and animals and the exchange takes the form of speech, the written word, use of common signs and behavior. For purposes of this discussion, human communication will be the focus. To be precise, effective communication will take precedence. This is the form of communication that captivates audiences well. Using the Harvard Family research project (Coffman, 2003), the Voluntary Ozone Action campaign case study will be analyzed. The 1990 Act of Clean Air underwent amendments after which the EPA (i.e.Environmnetal Protection Agency) circulated standards of air quality for six pollutants that are airborne and detrimental to public health. The standards were inclusive of the ozone at ground level (i.e. colorless and odorless gas that forms a major part of smog found at a similar height as the plane of the earth). The EPA launched methods of measuring conformity to these principles. It discovered 31 regions which did not comply across the nation. One particular region was the 13-county municipal area around Atlanta. This locale explicitly had not met the ground level ozone standard(Henry&Gordon,2003).Consequently the VOAP(i.e. Voluntary Ozone Action Program) was formed by the Georgia Natural Resource Department in 1997.The Division of Environmental Protection was the unit within the department that structured this program.
The main goals of this program were to enlighten the public concerning the health consequences of ground level ozone, to raise understanding about the significance of ground level ozone and to specifically decrease behaviors that cause deadly emissions. The conduct of reduced driving was the primary target of this program. This is because emissions from driving were approximated to be 50% of Atlanta's production ground level ozone. It was essential to increase the consciousness of the public when it involved reduced driving during the months of May to September daytime hours when emissions were at their highest. The campaign for this program developed “ozone alerts” to tell the residents of Atlanta that the concentrations of ozone would be great the following day. The alerts were distributed through freeway traffic signs, local newpapers, media (i.e. radio and television) reports and editorials. Other methods were news stories about pollution and its connection to the ozone and public service broadcasts. VOAP also took a social approach to this issue so as to extract the preferred results(i.e. employers to acquire actions that will reduce ozone concentrations when they were high, encourage environmental friendly methods of transport that do not burn fossil fuels among employees and flexible work schedules for subsequent reduction of driving during rush hour).
A good example of this execution was that of the Governor in 1997 who gave an administrative order for all agencies, institutions and departments of tertiary education to lower (by 20%)the speed of sole occupancy vehicles .Official plans were needed and progress supervised. Federal agencies which havethe highest number of employees agreed to employ related strategies. The program also targeted private businesses with which partnerships would be fostered so that their voluntary participation added growth to the VOAP endeavor. It is worth noting that the research undertaken for VOAP development was unique and informative to the final campaign and assessment design (Henry&Rivera, 1998).
The key communication issue is the channel used. Much of the VOAP campaign concentrated on audio visual contact. An important element that would have had a greater impact is the one-on-one type. The program could have signed up to popular websites that are easily accessed by a vast majority of the population in Atlanta. Using today's examples, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube would have been viable methods.Secondly; the program could have had talks in tertiary education bodies where a large section of the public is found and seminars in the vicinity of the private enterprises that chose to partner with this program. It would be challenging to incorporate such avenues of discussion but it would be useful if they termed these chats as part of standard process of social corporate responsibility of the organizations involved. A creative element that could be added is that of environmental activities that entail tree planting and clean up activities with all the stakeholders of the program (i.e. the employees of the institutions, other members of the public and investors).
The approach that can be used from a supervisory position would be more inspirational than authoritative. Supervisors or managers should organize systems within their organizations to create space for awareness of the ozone and pollution to take place. Viable solutions to curbing these ills to health and daily living can be defined and practiced by theses leaders. They can consistently remind their employees to “be green” as they go about their daily activities. They can also make use of environmentally friendly options in the workplace. Creating a “green team” within the company will promote eco-friendly initiatives among employees is one way. Promotion of recycling (i.e. of paper, cans, bottles and plastics) and saving of energy (i.e. switching off computers and office room lights) are other effective methods. Also car pooling within the organization will encourage alternative transportation among the employees. A broader based advance would be joining an online community that promotes “green” initiatives and posting eco-friendly pointers in company advertisements. Over time, the message of the company will be the norm of its workers and the ripple effect would be a cleaner and greener state of mind and environment.
Social science hypotheses can be used to justify the above recommendations for a more effective result of VOAP in Atlanta. The first theory is that of reasoned action and the second is that of planned behavior. The reasoned action theory states that the voluntary behavior of a person is calculated by that person's outlook to that behavior and others' opinion of that conduct. This person's mind-set and subjective norms (i.e. mixture of perceived outcomes from important people or groups together with ideals to abide by these expectations) form the behavioral intention. For the VOAP program, this theory is applicable because the attitudes of the people in Atlanta will be shaped by the techniques recommended. When the public and employees of the federal agencies and private sectors are encouraged to keep “green”, they will work hard to satisfy the expectations of the society and supervisors respectively. Moreover the system will be set such that it will be considered appropriate and acceptable by the society. This will be effective for those individual who did not have prior intentions of being eco-friendly. They will make necessary adjustments to fit into the scheme being established.
The second social science theory as mentioned above is that of planned behavior which is a revision of the reasoned action theory. The predictor added to the former model is perceived behavioral control (Ajzen, 1985). This forecast was added to accommodate the circumstance where a person has the motive of executing a behavior but it is not because it is ruined by the person's lack of poise or power over the behavior. This theory is more accepted because it contains a person's preferred behavior and it explains the association between actual behavior and behavioral intention.Therefore, it is a very influential and prognostic model for elucidating human behavior.
The possible obstacles or difficulties that are likely to be encountered are related to the potential failure of the hypotheses evaluated by VOAP.The first hypothesis stated that the VOAP campaign affected the awareness of the public with regard to ground level ozone. Analysis of this hypothesis used the regression model of least squares. The variables examined as predictors comprised of demographics, time, and ozone alert awareness in the last 24 hours, commuting distance, the people's attitude and ozone alert timing. Findings showed that articles on the Metro page did not increase awareness that was critical to reducing emissions in Atlanta.Secondly, people with lower incomes, young residents and non-whites did not get the message. At a supervisory position the challenge would be ensuring that the alerts appear more often in the front-page articles of newspapers and disseminating eco-friendly messages to the non whites and youth of my organization.
The second hypothesis used stated that a reduction in trips taken and miles occurred on days of the ozone alerts. As a supervisor it would be challenging to place emphasis on the male population and individuals who have privileged incomes in the organization because the findings from this assumption show that the stated group drove more than others.
The third hypothesis stated that government employees reduced their driving on days of ozone alerts. The supervisors of federal agencies are shown to be more effective when they used social contexts to implement changes. By increasing the use of eco-friendly driven initiatives, a significant reduction in emissions will occur.Also, the verdict of this supposition show that employees in the private segment need improvements in making the goals of VOAP achievable. This means that supervisors or managers in private enterprises need to put into action the eco-friendly methods suggested earlier.In this way, the joined efforts of public and private sector will achieve a cleaner environment.
The three hypotheses stated with respect to the observations made from the VOAP show that awareness is critical to getting people involved in a just cause (i.e. reduction of ozone at the ground level)using a social approach. This means that people are shown how useful their contribution would be to every one in a community.
Conclusion And Recommendations
The VOAP case study discussed above provides a guide about the circumstances that are necessary for policy and behavior change. A focus on the social environment was necessary to make the project a success. It was not sufficient to simply make observations on the behavior of the residents of Atlanta. Another aim of the project was to show that the investment made by the government worked for the improvement of citizens in Atlanta. If the experimental design used could not justify federal funding, then the campaign would have lost support from agencies and institutions associated with the state. The campaign proved successful because the ultimate goal of reduction in ozone of ground level occurred after the social norms and awareness brought about change to Atlanta. Parameters that approved the campaign's triumph were reduction in mileage covered by drivers using fossil fuel vehicles and the trips taken due to managerial influence in the work ethic of organization and especially those of the government.
It would be correct to say that with improvement in the awareness strategy of the program, it will be possible to achieve the “green” associated objectives of VOAP in Atlanta and hopefully execute similar methods in the remaining 30 states that are not fully compliant to the 1990 EPA Act of Clean Air.
Ajzen, I. (1985). From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior. In J. Kuhi & J. Beckmann (Eds.), Action-control: From cognition to behavior.Heidelberg: Springer.
Coffman, J. (2003). Lessons in evaluating communications campaigns: Five case studies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.
Henry, G.T., & Rivera, M. (1998). Public information campaigns and changing behaviors. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, New York.