Panel Paper: Stakeholder Diversity and the Comprehensiveness of Government-Sponsored Non-Regulatory Environmental Programs

Friday, November 7, 2014 : 10:55 AM
Enchantment Ballroom D (Hyatt)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Hyunjung Ji, University of Alabama and Nicole Darnall, Arizona State University
While the use of non-regulatory environmental programs (NREPs) to achieve environmental objectives has become increasingly popular among local governments, their program design is likely to affect their performance outcomes. Many scholars have suggested that “comprehensiveness” is a particularly salient feature of program design in that comprehensive NREPs are more likely to improve environmental quality. Comprehensive NREPs are both exhaustive in their scope of environmental issues and flexible in their use of multiple tools that jointly work for these issues. While thousands of local governments have implemented NREPs, few studies have assessed them, and virtually none have examined how diverse local stakeholders affect their comprehensiveness. We posit that comprehensiveness depends on which stakeholders are involved during the design process. We examine these issues using data from the 2010 ICMA Local Government Sustainability Policies and Programs Survey, which includes information for more than 100 local NREPs (across 1,875 US municipal governments) that address a wide range of environmental concerns such as energy, water, transportation, recycling. We combine these data with information collected from the National Center for Charitable Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Using Poisson regression, we assess the relationship between stakeholder diversity and NREP comprehensiveness.  Our results indicate that, indeed, stakeholder diversity is related to NREP comprehensiveness. More specifically, by including residential stakeholders who represent a range of economic conditions, as well regulatory stakeholders, local governments are more likely to design NREPs in a comprehensive way, and thus optimize environmental quality. A spillover benefit of this more targeted NREP design approach is that it can reap additional benefits associated with enhancing social equity within communities, thereby promoting multiple public policy objectives.