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Deslatte, A., & Swann, W. L. (2017) Context matters: A Bayesian analysis of how organizational environments shape the strategic management of sustainable development Public Administration. 95(3), 807-824


Public administration scholars have argued the need for a ‘general theory’ linking strategic management to the context in which public organizations operate. Understanding the interplay between organizational contexts and strategic management responses to urban sprawl and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions remains an underexplored avenue for empirical advancement of this goal. Using 2015 survey data, we employ a novel Bayesian item response theory (IRT) approach to test how land use policy comprehensiveness, organizational capacities, leadership turnover, and environmental complexities affect the strategic management of smart growth policy in local governments. We find that public organizations harness political, administrative, and community capacities in varied combinations to better achieve their policy objectives, but these influences may not be complementary. Also, policy comprehensiveness generally relates to more strategic activity, while municipal executive turnover offers opportunities and threats to some smart growth strategies. Implications of this research are discussed.

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