Green American City: Civic capacity and the distributed adoption of urban innovations
72 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2020 Last revised: 8 Aug 2022
Date Written: May 31, 2022
Why do some cities adopt practices to resolve social and environmental problems more rapidly and extensively than others? Although diffusion studies emphasize administrative adoption by central authorities, a range of private and public organizations are involved in the distributed adoption of innovations. I argue that variation in the adoption of urban innovations results from persistent differences in cities’ organizational communities. An econometric analysis of the geographic dispersion of green construction practices and policies demonstrates that cities with greater civic capacity, where values-oriented organizations recognize and tackle social problems, see quicker and more extensive adoption. The effect is largest early in the diffusion process because nonprofits are themselves early adopters of green construction. Municipal policies later legitimate green building, but they follow prior distributed adoption among individual organizations. The sequential framework of distributed and administrative adoption contributes to the understanding of the institutional determinants of responses to climate change, nonprofits as catalysts of urban innovation, and the consequences of urban governance on an intercity scale.
Keywords: civic capacity, administrative and distributed adoption, practice diffusion, urban governance, organizational communities, green construction, nonprofit organizations
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