Implementing City Sustainability

Overcoming Administrative Silos to Achieve Functional Collective Action

Rachel M. Krause and Christopher V. Hawkins
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1921-7
Publication: Jan 21

HC: $110.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1920-0
Publication: Jan 21

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1922-4
Publication: Jan 21

282 pages
6 x 9
28 tables, 24 figs., 3 maps

How cities organize to design and implement sustainability

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Implementing City Sustainability examines the structures and processes that city governments employ to pursue environmental, social, and economic well-being within their communities. As American cities adopt sustainability objectives, they are faced with the need to overcome fuzzy-boundary, coordination, and collective action challenges to achieve successful implementation.

Sustainability goals often do not fit neatly into traditional city government structures, which tend to be organized around specific functional responsibilities, such as planning, public works, parks and recreation, and community development. The authors advance a theory of Functional Collective Action and apply it to local sustainability to explain how cities can—and in some cases do—organize to successfully administer changes to achieve complex objectives that transcend these organizational separations. Implementing City Sustainability uses a mixed-method research design and original data to provide a national overview of cities’ sustainability arrangements, as well as eight city case studies highlighting different means of organizing to achieve functional collective action.

By focusing not just on what cities are doing to further sustainability, but also on how they are doing it, the authors show how administrative structure enables—or inhibits—cities to overcome functional divides and achieve successful outcomes.


"Implementing City Sustainability absolutely does provide important new information about what goes on under the local sustainability hood. Indeed, where the authors really shine is in their willingness to deepen and broaden the sustainability dialogue, drawing in all aspects of the sustainability triangle and noting that local administrations can see this work as outside of the norm. They discuss the stress sustainability work can create when cities are expected to implement policies for which administrators are unprepared and how the approaches they identify attempt to resolve these tensions. In doing so, they add a touch of realness and humanity to the expectations of local governments."
Public Administration

" Krause and Hawkins devote much-needed attention to the collective-action problems confronting local governments who are trying to take sustainability seriously.... (T)he strength of the book is in the case studies which illustrate the processes for institutionalizing sustainability.... The novelty of the text is derived from the factors the authors identify as affecting functional collective action.... Future research will need to extend the insights from this impressive effort."
Journal of Urban Affairs

Krause and Hawkins offer a new, deep examination of the ways in which city governments move sustainability from idea to reality. Through case studies of local governments’ management of sustainability initiatives, they provide broad insights about coordinating and implementing complex projects across functional and agency boundaries. Implementing City Sustainability presents theoretically-informed, empirically-grounded scholarship about the important and very timely topic of local sustainability administration.”—Megan Mullin, Duke University, author of Governing the Tap: Special District Governance and the New Local Politics of Water

Implementing sustainability is challenged by many factors, most notably the need to cross agency silos and build new forms of collaboration within local governments. Krause and Hawkins take us inside eight case study cities and show us both the formal and informal mechanisms that help sustain policy networks. The central purpose of Implementing City Sustainability is to shed light on effective institutional designs that overcome vertical, horizontal, and functional coordination challenges. Replete with organizational charts, this book offers city managers a view on various approaches to implementing sustainability at the city level.”— Mildred E. Warner, Professor of City and Regional Planning and Global Development, Cornell University

Table of Contents


1. Introduction to Local Sustainability and Functional Collective Action
2. Setting the Stage: A Quantitative Overview of Cities and Sustainability
3. Functional Collective Action Framework
4. Lead Agency Consolidation: Fort Collins, Colorado
5. Lead Agency Coordination: Kansas City, Missouri, and Orlando, Florida
6. Relationships and Bargaining: Providence, Rhode Island; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Oakland, California
7. Decentralized Networks: El Paso, Texas, and Gainesville, Florida
8. A Closer Look at Interdepartmental Relationships and Network Structures around Sustainability in Select Cities
9. Key Themes and Findings at the Intersection of Cities, Sustainability, and Functional Collective Action

Appendix A: Survey Instrument
Appendix B: Survey Invitation
Appendix C: Template for Semistructured Interviews Conducted in Case Study Cities
Appendix D: Fort Collins, Colorado, City Profile
Appendix E: Kansas City, Missouri, City Profile
Appendix F: Orlando, Florida, City Profile
Appendix G: Providence, Rhode Island, City Profile
Appendix H: Ann Arbor, Michigan, City Profile
Appendix I: Oakland, California, City Profile
Appendix J: El Paso, Texas, City Profile
Appendix K: Gainesville, Florida, City Profile
Appendix L: Betweenness and Degree Centrality Scores for All Functional Units in Orlando, Kansas City, and Fort Collins City Governments

About the Author(s)

Rachel M. Krause is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas.

Christopher V. Hawkins is a Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida and coeditor of Disaster Resiliency: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.