Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Todd Swanstrom


David Kimball

Dave Robertson

Anita Manion


The disruptive arrival of Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNCs) into American cities ignited arguments on how policy-makers should regulate such entities. Policy debates started among policymakers, companies, and existing industries and interests. In attempts to persuade policy, actors adopted a variety of language and used different levels of government to achieve policy goals. In almost all cases, TNCs were able to gain favorable policy through image framing and venue shopping – the key components to Punctuated Equilibrium Theory (PET). This analysis looks at the policy process of three American cities: Chicago, IL, St. Louis, MO, and Austin, TX. Transportation network companies framed the issue favorably to their policy demands, winning over the public, drivers, and policymakers in most cases. However, when the political climate was harsher for TNCs, they sought sympathy from policy makers in different regulator institutions. Conversely, taxi interests were unable to use the same tactics to achieve their demands. I argue that this is due to TNC’s ability to appeal to framing suitable for target audiences, mainly free-market, business-friendly, and tech-savvy language. This language appealed to mayors, city council members, and state lawmakers, making TNCs able to “shop” from one level of government to another to achieve lax regulation and company oversight.

Additional Files

3MT_Painter_4-3.pptx (484 kB)
3 Minute Thesis