'Context Matters: A Bayesian Analysis of How Organizational Environments Shape the Strategic Management of Sustainable Development,'A Deslatte, WL Swann - Public Administration, 2017. Public administration scholars have argued the need for a ‘general theory’ linking strategic management to the context in which public organizations operate (O’Toole and Meier 2014). Understanding the interplay between organizational contexts and strategic management responses to urban sprawl and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions remains an underexplored avenue for empirical advancement of this goal. Using 2015 survey data, we employ a novel Bayesian item response theory (IRT) approach to test how land use policy comprehensiveness, organizational capacities, leadership turnover, and environmental complexities affect the strategic management of smart growth policy in local governments. We find public organizations harness political, administrative, and community capacities in varied combinations to better achieve their policy objectives, but these influences may not be complimentary. Also, policy comprehensiveness generally relates to more strategic activity, while municipal executive turnover offers opportunities and threats to some smart growth strategies. Implications of this research are discussed.
'Urban Pressures and Innovations: Sustainability Commitment in the Face of Fragmentation and Inequality,'A Deslatte, RC Feiock, K Wassel - Review of Policy Research, 2017. Local government innovations occur within environments characterized by high service-need complexity and risk. The question of how broader environmental conditions influence governmental willingness or ability to innovate has been a long-standing concern within organizational, management, and policy scholarship. Although wealth and education are robust predictors of the propensity to engage in a wide range of local sustainability activities, the linkages among governmental fragmentation, social inequality, and sustainability policies are not well understood. This study focuses on the conditions both within and across city boundaries in urban regions which inhibit adoption of sustainable development innovations. We utilize a Bayesian item response theory approach to create a new scale measuring sustainability commitment by local governments in the United States. The analysis finds service-need complexity and capacity within local governments’ organizational task environments have nonlinear influences on innovation in terms of both green building and social inclusion policy tools.
'A narrative approach to analyzing transitions in urban water management: The case of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department,'G Treuer, E Koebele, A Deslatte, K Ernst, M Garcia and K Manago - Water Resources Research, 2017. Although the water management sector is often characterized as resistant to risk and change, urban areas across the United States are increasingly interested in creating opportunities to transition toward more sustainable water management practices. These transitions are complex and difficult to predict – the product of water managers acting in response to numerous biophysical, regulatory, political, and financial factors within institutional constraints. Gaining a better understanding of how these transitions occur is crucial for continuing to improve water management. This paper presents a replicable methodology for analyzing how urban water utilities transition toward sustainability. The method combines standardized quantitative measures of variables that influence transitions with contextual qualitative information about a utility's unique decision making context to produce structured, data-driven narratives. Data-narratives document the broader context, the utility's pretransition history, key events during an accelerated period of change, and the consequences of transition. Eventually, these narratives should be compared across cases to develop empirically-testable hypotheses about the drivers of and barriers to utility-level urban water management transition. The methodology is illustrated through the case of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and its transition toward more sustainable water management in the 2000s, during which per capita water use declined, conservation measures were enacted, water rates increased, and climate adaptive planning became the new norm.
'Policy of Delay: Evidence from a Bayesian Analysis of Metropolitan Land-Use Choices,' A Deslatte, A Tavares, RC Feiock - Policy Studies Journal, 2016. Do local policymakers strategically use delay in permitting development to forestall the growth machine? The mantras of smart growth and sustainable development assume local governments can balance the competing values of economic development, ecology, and equity interests in a community. We employ a political market framework to explain differences in local government land use decisions. This framework conceptualizes policy choices as resulting from the interplay between the aggregate policy demand by residents, developers, and environmental interests and the aggregate supply by government authorities. Delays can be imposed strategically through processes of development approval by city governments where industry strength and form of government vary within county-level service-delivery fragmentation. We utilize novel Bayesian multilevel modelling of data collected from 2007 and 2015 surveys of Florida city planners and find strong institutional effects and multilevel relationships.
'Three Sides of the Same Coin? A Bayesian Analysis of Strategic Management, Comprehensive Planning, and Inclusionary Values in Land Use' A Deslatte, WL Swann, RC Feiock - Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2016. Local government managers face fundamental, value conflicts when they engage urban land use issues. Despite the planet’s ongoing urbanization, managerial influence on land use policy remains an under-examined arena. Local governments are routinely asked to balance economic, ecological, and social equity concerns when making choices between alternative land use policy tools. Are local government sustainable development efforts more strategic, comprehensive, and inclusive than when led by professional public managers rather than elected mayors? How do the institutional forms of government inhibit or enhance the ability of specific policy demanders to influence the use of these tools under varying economic conditions? We answer these questions by examining the relationship between local government structure and land use policy utilization in different economic environments with a Bayesian analysis of surveys of Florida cities at three time periods. Differences between manager and mayoral executive leadership shape public management strategies, comprehensiveness, and inclusionary motives linked to land use policy tool utilization before and after the housing boom of the mid-2000s. However, management turnover mitigates this effect. Moreover, managerial influence is not evident at the housing bubble’s peak, which we argue is an important caveat to the empirical evidence on form of government.
'Boundaries and Speed Bumps The Role of Modernized Counties Managing Growth in the Fragmented Metropolis,' A Deslatte - Urban Affairs Review, 2016. Many counties in the U.S. federalist system have morphed from a limited role in service delivery to a workhorse for municipal-style local government. They also facilitate development and sprawl, helping to shape development patterns of the modern fragmented metropolis. Why do counties accommodate development demand that deviates from long-term land-use plans intended to prevent sprawl? Utilizing panel data of county land-use changes in Florida, this study finds evidence that the decisions are shaped by both external competition for growth and internal institutional incentives. Fragmentation fuels more leapfrog development patterns on the urban fringe. Horizontal fragmentation encourages counties to compete for development, whereas vertical fragmentation via special districts facilitates such development through provision of services and reducing pressure for public officeholders to raise taxes. However, these fragmentation effects are also influenced by modernized institutions in counties such as home-rule charters and form of government.
'Capturing Structural and Functional Diversity Through Institutional Analysis The Mayor Position in City Charters,' RC Feiock, CM Weible, DP Carter, C Curley, A Deslatte, T Heikklia - Urban Affairs Review, 2016. City charters affect the governance of municipal systems in complex ways. Current descriptions and typologies developed to study city charter structures simplify the diverse types and configurations of institutional rules underlying charter designs. This research note demonstrates a more detailed approach for studying the design of city charters using analytical methods based on the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework. This approach is illustrated with a pilot study of institutional rules in municipal charters that define the roles and duties of mayors. The findings reveal that city charters exhibit great institutional diversity, particularly within strong mayor cities. We conclude with a research agenda that could generate a more precise and rigorous understanding of the relationship between the different configurations of institutions of city charters and the politics, governance, and performance of municipalities.
'Is The Price Right? Gauging The Marketplace For Local Sustainable Policy Tools,' A Deslatte, WL Swann- Journal of Urban Affairs, 2015. Local government sustainability has become a cause c´el`ebre in urban policy. Extant research has attempted to construct narratives of sustainable environmental, economic, and social equity motivations by grouping together multifaceted types of policies adopted to deal with multidimensional problems of land use, transportation, energy, solid waste, carbon emissions, and other functional areas of local government. Yet, decades of policy adoption and implementation research suggest some policies or policy tools require a far greater commitment of resources and administrative and political buy-in than others. We explore whether the degree of such commitment reflects different motivations at play and test for distinct political economies for specific categories of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction policy tools. We find evidence that the determinants for the two types of policies are distinct, and subsequent research requires refocusing theoretical and empirical efforts at differentiating “win-win” tools from more “altruistic” commitments to sustainable action by governments.
'Reassessing “City Limits” in Urban Public Policy,' A Deslatte - Policy Studies Journal, 2015. Urban public policy continues to explore the problems of urban growth and decline in a multidisciplinary fashion, focusing multiple theoretical lenses on questions of governance and division of authority as well as the practical applications for areas of policy specialization. This article reviews recent articles on income, housing, and racial/ethnic stratification, which share a common link of mobility-based prescriptions. It also reviews the role sustainability, equity, and cultural norms play in scholarship. The field is moving in a direction that integrates classical rational choice and sociological explanations for policies addressing sustainability and equity, the role of cultural identity in urban renewal efforts, and long-standing problems of citizen participation in government decision making.
'Municipal Charters,' A Deslatte - Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy, 2015. This entry reviews the history and study of municipal charters in the United States. It covers the origins of city charters, their constitutional and operational characteristics, and future directions of public administration research. Charters have been viewed through the new institutional analytic framework, which treats charters as constitution-level contractual agreements between citizens and government designed to minimize uncertainty about the future distribution of costs and benefits of public goods. Charters have also been the subject of political conflict as historically disenfranchised groups opposed charter reforms they argued would margin-alize their voice in governmental decisions. It briefly details the methods of " direct democracy " commonly included in charters as a response to corruption and inefficiencies.