Sustainable Public Administration: the Search for Intergenerational Fairness
University of Kansas
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This study presents a broad understanding of sustainability-sustainability as intergenerational equity, or fairness in relation to future generations. It seeks to fill the theoretical gap in the sustainability literature, in particular the preoccupation of that literature with short-term sustainability strategies, and its lack of both theoretical and empirical inquiries concerning intergenerational sustainability. The study looks at the experiences of particular art organizations (art museums, literature, and music and performing arts) with the purpose of exploring the determinants of institutional resilience and management strategies that enhance the long-term sustainability of organizations. I seek to challenge the widespread theoretical and empirical orientation in the culture-based development literature that looks at arts organizations as sites for sustainable development, and thus assigns them purely instrumental and temporal value. Interviews with art managers and experts from eighteen arts organizations across the United States, examinations of organizational practices and strategic documents, historic analysis, and other forms of field research all suggest that there is a special kind of institutional rationality that, over time, translates into what I call institutional capital for sustainability. I also find that institutional arrangements are important predictors of a choice of sustainability strategies, however, sustainable thinking and sustainable acting by managers of art organizations matter more for long-term sustainability than particular institutional structures. The study identifies particular managerial roles associated with sustainable decision-making. I find that through their day-to-day choices managers of art institutions almost inadvertently pursue an ethic of sustainability, vouching safe the interests of future generations.
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