Methodological and managerial applications of the structural norm approach to social and facility capacity indicators in Hawai'i's coastal recreation areas Public Deposited

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  • Tropical coastal and marine areas are popular for recreation, leisure, and tourism activities, but these activities can cause social (e.g., crowding), ecological (e.g., coral trampling), and managerial impacts (e.g., pressure on facilities). The concept of norms is one approach for examining user acceptance or tolerance of these impacts. This dissertation consists of three standalone articles that extend the application of norms to social and facility impacts in tropical coastal and marine areas. The first article is methodological in nature, as it empirically compares one conventional scale ("very unacceptable" to "very acceptable") and one new scale ("should definitely not allow" to "should definitely allow") for measuring encounter norms in these areas. The second article then applies this scale to examine the influence of user value orientations toward coral reef areas (i.e., biocentric or protectionist to anthropocentric or use oriented) on norms regarding encounters in these areas. Given that there has been little empirical research on facility capacity issues, the third article extends the encounter – norm – observation approach to examine facility capacity issues in these areas. Data were obtained from onsite questionnaires administered to users at six sites on the island of Oahu, Hawai'i (n = 2,821; 87% response rate). Results of the first article showed that the new scale that was arguably more in line with conventional definitions of norms and related obligations generated higher norm intensity or importance of encounters as an indicator, but less crystallization or consensus and more liberal standards. These differences between scales were statistically significant across most sites, but were relatively weak, suggesting that the most commonly used scale for measuring norms in recreation, leisure, and tourism (i.e., acceptance) may still be appropriate. Results of the second article showed that the majority of users had a protectionist orientation toward coral reef areas and there was no group with only use orientations. Across most sites, those with stronger protectionist orientations toward reef areas were more likely to feel that higher use densities or encounters should not be allowed in these areas, had more crystallization about conditions that should and should not be allowed, and believed more strongly that use density was an important indicator for these areas. Results of the third article showed that the majority of users saw fewer of most facilities at each site than they believed should be at each site and these people were less satisfied with facilities. When compared to the actual number of facilities, however, there were enough of most facilities to accommodate respondent norms. A summary of findings, management implications, and considerations for future methodological and theoretical research is provided.
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