Open to the public
Some cities have come to be at the forefront of finding and enforcing solutions to social and environmental problems; others remain stuck on the back benches. This dissertation examines the case of city climate action—strategic attempts to mitigate and adapt to climate change by local means—to understand the profound variation in cities’ capacities to act.
I bring together theories from organizational, political, and urban sociology to develop a framework of city action that shows the interplay of a place-based organizational ecosystem and a shared institutional environment.
Comparative analyses of cities in the U.S. and worldwide and expert interviews show how public officials have shaped cities’ responses to the changing climate. Three studies illuminate the global rise and stagnation of strategic commitments to tackling climate change, the political and institutional contexts of urban sustainability efforts in city administrations, and the public–private interactions in the origins and spread of green construction.
Across the studies, civil society emerges as an anchor of urban innovation that leads by example, guides public administrations, and knits an emergent professional network of cities.
This research inserts contemporaries Weber and Park into a long due conversation that explains disparities in urban innovation. It reveals durable differences in the organizational infrastructure that catalyzes or curbs city action by shaping civic and state capacities. It finally contributes to a meso-level understanding of organizational society in the urban age.
Coffee and hot cocoa will be served.