Urban Nonprofits, City Governance, and Sustainability in American Cities

41 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Aug 2009

See all articles by Kent E. Portney

Kent E. Portney

Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service

Jeffrey M. Berry

Tufts University

Kelli Farrington

Tufts University

Kathryn Bond

Tufts University

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

American cities vary greatly in the degree to which they demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Determining why some cities develop an array of programs designed to promote sustainability while others cities do little is a complex undertaking. We focus here on the interaction between various interest group sectors and city councilors. Our measurements draw on a combination of two databases, one a survey of 50 large American cities and the other a comprehensive index of city-level programming in the area of environmental protection and sustainability. Particular attention is paid to the role of urban nonprofits, including neighborhood associations, environmental groups, and non-environmental civic associations. Although the relationships are not consistent through all tests, there is an overall pattern that links nonprofit advocacy to increased levels of sustainability programs and policies. In a multivariate analysis labor union advocacy proves to be most powerful predicator of serious city-level sustainability efforts. This belies the image of labor as being anti-environmental. Our modern, post-industrial economy generates jobs with the development of green businesses. Overall, we find that city governments appear relatively open with a diverse array of advocacy groups participating in the policymaking process.

Suggested Citation

Portney, Kent E. and Berry, Jeffrey M. and Farrington, Kelli and Bond, Kathryn, Urban Nonprofits, City Governance, and Sustainability in American Cities (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1450991

Kent E. Portney (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service ( email )

TAMU 4220
1004 George Bush Dr West
College Station, TX 77843
United States

Jeffrey M. Berry

Tufts University ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

Kelli Farrington

Tufts University ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

Kathryn Bond

Tufts University ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

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