Environmental Policy

Implementing Environmental Sustainability in Local Government: The Impacts of Framing, Agency Culture, and Structure in US Cities and Counties

Laurian, L.; Walker, M.; Crawford, J.


This article focuses on the organizational factors of environmental sustainability implementation in local government. We investigate the interactions, as well as direct and indirect impacts, of the framing of environmental sustainability and organizational culture and structure on implementation outcomes. We use a survey of 217 city/county planners and managers in 146 randomly selected American mid-sized cities and counties. The survey was specifically designed to tease out organizational features and their impacts. We model these impacts using structural equation modeling. We find that horizontally and vertically integrated organizational structure supports two essential dimensions of organizational culture: innovation adoption and consensus building. These cultural traits positively impact the framing of environmental sustainability at the core of organizations’ logic, which in turn significantly supports implementation outcomes. These findings provide important insights into city/county managers seeking to promote sustainability, and provide a base for future studies of the organizational factors of implementation.