95
Chapter 5
The Greening of Public
Administration
Important for the public administrator to understand is the fact that efficient and
accountable public service is not contrary to the goals of sustainability. Public
administration theory and practice has increasingly focused on the issue of sustain-
ability. Within this context, the term sustainability refers to a principle of governing
in which the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment and
Development, 1987). e tenets of public administration are not significantly differ-
ent from the principles of sustainability. In fact, good public provision and admin-
istration of services requires that resources are managed effectively in the short term
so that risk is mitigated for future citizens (Leunberger, 2006, 200). ese are not
competing priorities. Sustainability and public administration are complementary
ideals that are likely to influence each other for the foreseeable future.
e challenge for public administrators and nonprofit directors is to sustainably
manage the provision of services and goods with increasingly limited and declining
resources (Leunberger and Wakin, 2007, 394). e complexity of doing so occurs
when professionals in both sectors attempt to identify and implement strategies
that are in line with this new management ideology despite having little guidance
on what it means to be sustainable or “green.” In the same vein, the need to green
economic growth or development has been added to the list of priorities when pur-
suing sustainability (Slunge and Loayza, 2012).
is chapter offers public administrators and nonprofit managers guidance on
how to incorporate sustainability into their everyday practices to benefit the bot-
tom line. It begins with an outline of the history of the environmental movement,
96 ◾  Local Economic Development and the Environment
and then it discusses how sustainability has been implemented at the local level,
with a focus on efficiency and effectiveness. e chapter closes with the concept in
action illustrating examples of two localities that successfully incorporated sustain-
able practices into their operations.
History of the Environmental Movement
e environmental movement has developed over three distinct yet overlapping
eras: (1) regulation for environmental protection, (2) efficiency-based regulatory
reform and flexibility, and, (3) most recently, a movement toward sustainable com-
munities (Mazmanian and Kraft, 2001, 8). Examining the movement through a
series of changes in problem identification and policy approaches illustrates how
we have arrived at a period of intense focus on sustainability, as well as the ways in
which the central tenets of public administration and sustainability are now viewed
as complementary. Each era has six key components:
1. Problem identification and policy objectives
2. Implementation philosophy
3. Points of intervention
4. Policy approaches and tools
5. Information and data management needs
6. Predominant political and institutional context (Mazmanian and Kraft,
2001, 810).
Regulation for Environmental Protection
Starting in the 1970s and lasting through 1990, the beginning of the environmen-
tal movement focused on development of an administrative and regulatory infra-
structure to protect the environment (Mazmanian and Kraft, 2001, 810; Rajao,
Azevedo, and Stabile, 2012). During this period, environmental degradation was
conceptualized as a negative externality of commercial and industrial activity. e
proposed solution was to create a set of laws and regulations requiring that busi-
nesses operate in an environmentally responsible way. However, during this time,
political will and public support for such a framework were lacking. e high-
priority policy objective at the time was to increase the public’s awareness of these
issues so they could gain legitimacy and find a place on the agendas of federal and
state governments (Figure 5.1).
Most regulations and policies created during this period were directed at decreas-
ing the amount of pollutants entering the environment at the point of impact (e.g.,
factory discharge into a river). e federal government exerted its dominance in
protecting the environment during this period through a policy approach centered
on command-and-control regulation; federal support for research and development

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