Organizational networks and sustainable urban water practices in US local governments

Gary Pivo, Adam Douglas Henry, Lena Berger, Edna Liliana Gomez-Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organizational networks are regarded as key in policy innovation for sustainable development. They are thought to enhance innovation through access to first-hand experience, enhanced trust within a community, and exposure to role models and competitors. Despite theoretical pertinence, organizational networks have not been studied as much as other drivers of innovation, such as organizational capacity, leadership, and the socio-political environment. This empirical study explores how networks affect the implementation of Sustainable Urban Water Management Practices (SUWM) at the local level. Using data from 110 local governments in five US regions, we examine the relationship between social interaction and the implementation of SUWM, and how this relationship depends on the types of interaction partners. Our findings show that local governments with larger organizational networks implement more SUWM practices. Collaboration with non-governmental organizations, particularly water sector associations, is strongly associated with an increase in use of SUWM practices. Overall, our findings suggest that creating and maintaining a robust organizational network of other government agencies and non-governmental organizations, especially water sector associations, increases the chances that a local government will implement more SUWM practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-396
Number of pages15
JournalWater Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Diffusion of innovation
  • Local governments
  • Organizational networks
  • Policy innovation
  • Policy networks
  • Sustainable Urban Water Management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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