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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 1 | Article 7


Climate Change and City Hall

Volume 15 Number 1

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Understanding City Engagement in Community-Focused Sustainability Initiatives

Dorothy M. Daley, Elaine B. Sharp, University of Kansas

Jungah Bae, Florida State University


Many local governments are promoting sustainability initiatives, ranging from progressive urban design and development to climate protection. Past research suggests that governments are often motivated to act because of the possible co-benefits, such as cost savings, associated with sustainability. Many sustainability programs target inhouse city operations, however, thus ensuring that co-benefits accrue to local government while not imposing regulations on businesses or residents. Co-benefits might be less likely to drive decisionmaking when sustainability initiatives are directed to the larger community. In this article, we examine why some cities actively pursue the more difficult prospect of communitywide sustainability policy. We merge secondary data with original data from a survey of local governments to explore three broad theoretical influences on decisionmaking: (1) interest group pressure, (2) problem severity or need, and (3) network strength. Our results suggest that, regardless of the institutional structure within a city, participation in some interlocal networks promotes communitywide sustainability initiatives.

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