How civic capacity gets urban social innovations started

Article by Christof Brandtner: “After President Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords, several hundred mayors signed national and global treaties announcing their commitments to “step up and do more,” as a senior official of the City of New York told me in a poorly lit room in 2017. Cities were rushing to the forefront of adopting practices and policies to address contemporary social and environmental problems, such as climate change.

What the general enthusiasm masked is significant variation in the extent and speed at which cities adopt these innovations…My study of the geographic dispersion of green buildings certified with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, published in the American Journal of Sociology, suggests that the organizational communities within cities play a significant role in adopting urban innovations. Cities with a robust civic capacity, where values-oriented organizations actively address social problems, are more likely to adopt new practices quickly and extensively. Civic capacity matters not only through structural channels, as a sign of ample resources and community social capital, but also through organizational channels. Values-oriented organizations are often early adopters of new practices, such as green construction, solar panels, electric vehicles, or equitable hiring practices. By creating proofs of concepts, these early adopters can serve as catalysts of municipal policies and widespread adoption…(More)”.