Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Administrative Apparatus to Overcome Functional Collective Action in City Sustainability

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 8:30 AM
Gautier (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Rachel Krause, University of Kansas and Richard Feiock, Florida State University
Local governments have emerged as leaders of climate and sustainability policy, despite operating in an environment which theoretically makes it advantageous to free-ride since local efforts produce non-exclusive benefits. The study of city level sustainability has expanded tremendously in the last decade, but the focus has been much more on policy design and adoption than implementation and management.  Thus we know little about the way these functions are (or should be) organized in cities.

Local sustainability is a complex issue, it is not a traditional function of city government, and it does not easily fit within existing administrative silos. The environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainability weave together threads of several distinct local government functions, which may lead to collective action or coordination problems arising from functionally fragmented authority. Absent an integrative coordination mechanism, individual policy decisions may generate inter-agency spillover effects, lead to inefficient outcomes, and stymie larger city wide sustainability goals. An administrative apparatus has not been systematically developed to coordinate sustainability’s implementation and facilitate policy success. 

This research begins to fill the lacuna surrounding local sustainability administration and functional collective action dilemmas by identifying the formal and informal mechanisms that cities employ to integrate decision making on sustainability. Specifically it addresses three questions: (1) What types of administrative mechanisms have cities employed to integrate sustainability?; (2) What factors influence these administrative and structural decisions?; and (3) What effect does the organizational structure used to manage sustainability have on the design and implementation of related initiatives? These questions are examined via an empirical analysis of all cities in the United States with populations over 50,000. Data is obtained from the Integrated City Sustainability Database (ICSD) and archival sources.