Employers as Mediating Institutions for Public Policy: The Case of Commute Options Programs



Scholars have recently noted the role that employers can play as “mediating institutions” for public policy. Mediating institutions connect the private lives of individuals with public policy concerns by communicating societal norms to members and providing social contexts that encourage a commitment to these norms. Despite the potential importance of employers as mediating institutions for public policy, little scholarly attention has been devoted to employer mediation behavior. Accordingly, this study examines two research questions. What factors influence an employer's willingness to mediate policy problems? And how effective are employers as mediating institutions? The mediation behaviors of interest relate to employer efforts to mitigate traffic congestion and air quality problems by enabling employee “commute options,” which are alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle commuting to work. Drawing on theories of organization behavior, the study hypothesizes that self-interest, organizational control, and association membership will affect willingness to provide commute options. The study also hypothesizes that employers providing commute options will have lower percentages of employees that drive to work alone. Both sets of hypotheses are supported by statistical analyses of data from a cross-sectional mail survey of metropolitan Atlanta organizations.