New article by Christof Brandtner in American Journal of Sociology.

Why do some cities adopt practices to resolve social and environmental problems more rapidly and extensively than others? Although diffusion studies emphasize administrative adoption by central authorities, a range of private and public organizations are involved in the distributed adoption of innovations. The author argues that variation in the adoption of urban innovations results from persistent differences in cities’ organizational communities. An econometric analysis of the geographic dispersion of green construction practices and policies demonstrates that cities with greater civic capacity, where values-oriented organizations recognize and tackle social problems, see quicker and more extensive adoption. The effect is largest early in the diffusion process because nonprofits are themselves early adopters of green construction. Municipal policies later legitimate green building, but they follow prior individual organizations. The sequential framework of distributed and administrative adoption contributes to the understanding of the institutional determinants of responses to climate change, nonprofits as catalysts of urban innovation, and the consequences of urban governance on an intercity scale.


Christof Brandtner, Green American City: Civic Capacity and the Distributed Adoption of Urban Innovations. American Journal of Sociology, 2022.