Changes in Resident Perceptions Over Time: A Theoretical Examination of a Mega-Event
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This study utilized existing data on the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games to investigate the impact of a mega-event on the host community, and to measure resident support for the event. Social exchange theory provided the theoretical background for this dissertation. The theory states that the costs and benefits of an exchange are continually re-evaluated by the actors in the exchange relationship. The primary contribution of this study is support for the notion that social exchanges are temporal in nature; residents continually monitored the positive and negative impacts of the event on themselves and on their community. To reach this conclusion, this study utilized four data points in the year leading up to the Olympics to assess the changes in residentsâ perceptions of the impacts of the event over time. These changes were evaluated in light of residentsâ support for the event. A factor analysis reduced the fifteen impact statements into three factors: Benefits, Local Problems, and External Problems. Residents were segmented according to their assessment of the event impacts, resulting in three clusters: Supporters, Cynics, and Realists. Proximity to the main event location also was evaluated since this variable has had mixed results in previous resident studies.
Results showed that resident perceptions varied over time, thus providing support for monitoring residents over multiple time periods. In addition, residentsâ support and residentsâ plans to attend the event were contributing factors in the assessment of the Benefits and Local Problems. Supporters, Cynics, and Realists demonstrated significant differences over time in their assessment of External Problems, and proximity to the event was found to be a significant factor in residentsâ assessment of Local Problems.