Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration


Rosemary O'Leary


brownfields, local government, networks, policy tools, public management

Subject Categories

Public Administration


With intensifying pressure to not only solve public problems by collaborating with actors situated outside the confines of city hall but also to address complex, long-term challenges like climate change adaptation and sustainability, local government public managers find themselves working in increasingly difficult public management environments. Currently, public management theory fails to fully prescribe management strategies and behaviors that enable managers to best achieve their goals in these situations. This dissertation addresses this gap between theory and practice by tracing the public management processes that lead to outcomes in a set of municipality-led brownfield remediation and redevelopment projects.

Utilizing an integration of public management, policy tool, and network theories, this research compares four project-level case studies in Rochester and Buffalo, New York, to address two primary questions. First, in what ways do brownfield projects function as public management networks? Second, to what extent do network management behaviors by city-level public managers impact project outcomes?

Contrary to prior research, my findings revealed that neither relationship management nor policy tool strategies alone sufficiently explained project outcomes. Instead, effective public management occurred when high levels of political legitimacy were coupled with an integration of policy tool and relationship management strategies, either through network-centric public managers themselves or through the actions of political champions operating in partnership with them. These findings imply that public management researchers focusing solely upon relationship management or policy tool explanations separate from political influences are not fully capturing the true public management story.


Open Access