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Deslatte, A., & Stokan, E. (2017) Hierarchies of need in sustainable development: A resource dependence approach for local governance Urban Affairs Review. 55(4): 1125-1152


Urban sustainability is a burgeoning focus for urban scholarship but rarely examined within the larger context of local government economic activities. Why should cities focusing on cutback management and competition for tax revenues be expected to devote all but the fleetest of attention to carbon footprints or metropolitan-wide environmental or social problems? To address this question, we utilize a resource dependence (RD) theoretical framework to conceptualize sustainable development as a pattern of contractual arrangements between governments and firms shaped by resource constraints. Utilizing survey data of U.S. cities and a Bayesian methodological approach, we present evidence that municipal job-recruitment efforts reduce the probability of observing an overall sustainability policy commitment. Cities which placed greater emphasis on retaining and developing existing businesses are also more committed to sustainability.

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