Date of Conferral







Walter McCollum


The U.S. Virgin Islands is experiencing an economic recession, manifested through social disorders such as abandoned and vandalized houses. Research points to social disorders and lack of community engagement as key factors inhibiting community development efforts. In order to strengthen these struggling communities, research has highlighted the need for public-private partnerships. Guided by Ajzen's theory of planned behavior, which posits that attitudes can predict behaviors, this study examined the relationship between social disorder and engagement of small business owners in community development. Small business owners in the U.S. Virgin Islands received an Internet or paper survey; a total of 79 completed surveys out of the 220 who were contacted. A Spearman rank-ordered correlations test and multiple regression were used to analyze the responses, with physical and social disorder, number of employees, and years of operation as the independent variables, and community engagement level as the dependent variable. The findings revealed a strong community engagement from the business owners, although none of the independent variables had a statistically significant relationship with the dependent variable. The findings also indicated which areas of social disorder most concerned small business owners. This study can have a positive social impact by identifying common areas of distress, which can help spur greater collaboration between community stakeholders and local small businesses, thereby creating an improved local environment.