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Krause awarded NSF grant to research administration of local sustainability efforts

Monday, May 4, 2015

LAWRENCE – University of Kansas Assistant Professor of Public Affairs and Administration, Dr. Rachel Krause, is a recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Science of Organizations (SoO) grant that will fund a two-year study examining how sustainability efforts are being administered in U.S. cities.

"Many of the issues that local governments face are complex and do not fit neatly into traditional administrative silos organized around function," researcher Rachel Krause said. "When a single issue or objective crosses multiple independent units, collective action and coordination problems can arise because authority is fragmented. Sustainability is one of those complex issues and it provides an ideal lens through which to study these organizational challenges. A large number of local governments have adopted sustainability goals, but an administrative apparatus to coordinate their implementation is lacking or inconsistent in many communities."

This project brings together a team of researchers who will work to better understand the effect that different administrative arrangements have on policy efforts and outcomes and will assess the institutional structures necessary to facilitate the success of local sustainability efforts. Dr. Krause will collaborate with Drs. Rick Feiock (Florida State University) and Chris Hawkins (University of Central Florida). The bulk of the research funds will be used to support graduate student research assistants, travel to case study cities to conduct research, and travel to conferences to present findings.

The research will first collect quantitative data on administrative institutions via surveys administered to local government officials. Then, eight cities will be selected for in-depth analysis based on characterizations developed from their survey responses. The results will be analyzed to assess and recommend administrative mechanisms available for overcoming barriers to success for local sustainability efforts.

Krause joined the faculty of the School of Public Affairs and Administration as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2013. KU’s portion of NSF grant #1461526 in the amount of $96,128.00 will be administered by the Institute for Policy and Social Research (IPSR).

"Our project aims to build on the considerable research that has been done on the challenges that often exist between jurisdictions in a region when they are trying to pursue a collective goal," Krause said. "We’ll take those ideas and theories and bring them inside individual cities to gain insight on the collective action problems that can occur between the multiple departments and units responsible for implementing sustainability efforts. A key goal is to identify the strengths and weaknesses associated with different administrative mechanisms available to integrate sustainability across a city government. "Hopefully, our results will help municipalities to make more informed choices and minimize administrative dilemmas within as well as between organizations."

Dr. Krause’s research focuses on urban sustainability, particularly the adoption, diffusion, impacts of local environmental and energy policies. Past research projects have focused on city-level greenhouse gas mitigation initiatives and public receptiveness to electric vehicles and carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” (www.nsf.gov). According to the NSF, approximately 10% of projects submitted to the Science of Organizations program receive funding. This is Dr. Krause’s first project funded by the NSF.


Ruth DeWitt, Communications Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
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