Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration

First Advisor's Name

Howard Frank

First Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Hai Guo

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee chair

Third Advisor's Name

Milena Neshkova

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Shaoming Cheng

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Ali Mostafavidarani

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Government Capacity, ARRA, Transportation, Grant

Date of Defense



This dissertation examined transportation grants provided to states under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Some states acquired more grants and utilized them in a timelier manner than others. This dissertation examined why this is the case, utilizing System Theory and Resource Based Theory as the intellectual framework. Human resource and financial resource capacities were viewed as the principal drivers of success and studying this managerially controllable variables underpin the analysis.

Though many studies have examined ARRA since 2009, my dissertation is the first to simultaneously examine the three stages of the ARRA transportation grant process: acquisition, implementation, and impact. There are three research questions, aligned with the three stages: (1) what factors affect state governments in the acquisition of competitive grants? (2) what factors affect state governments in the implementation of competitive and formula grants? and (3) what factors affect state governments in expenditure recovery and transportation investment?

Government Capacity consists of four components, namely human resources, financial resources, general management, and experience. I used three regression models (log-linear for the first, and panel corrected standard error for the last two) to test the impact of the government capacity on grant acquisition, implementation, and impact. Overall, the test results showed that three dimensions of government capacity played a significant role to varying extents with respect to ARRA: human resource, financial resource, and experience.

States with higher government capacity [strength (S) of capacity] turned the threat (T) of the Great Recession into an opportunity (O) for the restoration and development of transportation, and compensated for their weakness (W). The dissertation concluded that specific aspects of Government Capacity were thus relevant predictors of the acquisition, implementation, and impact of ARRA grants. Findings also support prior research that quality, not quantity of personnel may of signal import to organizational capacity during times of fiscal stress.





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