Regulatory Effectiveness and Social Equity in Environmental Governance: Assessing Goal Conflict, Trade-Off, and Synergy

  • Jiaqi Liang
  • The American Review of Public Administration, August 2017, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0275074017727365

What is it about?

Public organizations function in an environment of goal multiplicity and constantly juggle goal trade-off and synergy. However, little empirical research explores how the potential conflict between effectiveness and equity affects government agencies’ decision making. This study examines the extent to which public agencies are committed to regulatory effectiveness and social equity in environmental policy management, and the circumstances under which administrative agencies engage in goal trade-off and synergy. Analyzing data on the Clean Air Act in New York State, this study finds that although regulatory effectiveness is salient to government’s policy implementation, equity-oriented policy is likely to give rise to trade-off in this goal domain. The state agency manages environmental programs in an equitable way, and policy intervention has inconsistent effects on the equity goal achievement. The agency does, in some instances, synergize two goals in loci reflecting the convergence of task demands, but equity-oriented policy does not reinforce such behavioral pattern. Findings beg the question regarding how public policies and programs can be devised in ways that help avert goal trade-off and engender the maximum level of social outcomes.

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