Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

Local Government Adoption of Age Friendly Policies: An Integrated Model of Responsiveness, Multi-Level Governance and Public Entrepreneurship Theories

Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

Local Government Adoption of Age Friendly Policies: An Integrated Model of Responsiveness, Multi-Level Governance and Public Entrepreneurship Theories

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

How will local governments plan for a doubling of the 65 plus population to ensure their communities address the needs of health, safety, mobility, and accessibility? This issue stands to challenge public administrators as the nation experiences a monumental demographic change evidenced by the forecasted doubling of the baby boomer population between 2012 and 2060 (United State Department of Commerce, May 2010). This demographic shift will affect individual families and their resources, restructure the society, and affect all parts of community life. Public administrators play a unique role in facilitating the goals of older adults in their communities to live healthy and independent lives through the adoption and implementation of age-friendly policies and age-friendly community features. Administrators have taken notice of the rising demands on government services and the needs by this age group over the last decade (Klay, 1998). Central to this study is the interaction of older adults and their physical environment as defined by their ability to navigate their surrounding environment with multiple mobility options. Furthermore, it is essential for them to fulfill their shelter needs with access to a variety of housing options and price points. Additionally, the interaction between older adults and their social environment is defined as their ability to participate in civic, cultural, lifelong learning, and human services activities, etc. (Fitzgerald & Caro, 2013).

Typically, models of innovative policy adoption conceive a model of diffusion in which the innovation is identified, communicated, and implemented over time due to coercion, mimicry, and forces of competition (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Rogers, 2002). While diffusion literature suggests a champion to lead organizational change to support the innovation (DiMaggio, 1988; Tolbert & Zucker, 1999), a fuller explanation of diffusion theory includes the relevance of social context as well as the innovator's ties to a communication network to support the process of diffusion over time (Walker, 1969). Because diffusion theory is complex, we chose to concentrate specifically on the public entrepreneur as the agent for change since our research focuses on one unit of time. Previous research provides a basis for understanding local government adoption of innovative policies friendly to older adults through diffusion theory (Lehning, 2012).

Therefore, the following paper asserts that a fuller explanation of the adoption of policies friendly toward the aging population by local governments lies in a model based on the integration of three theories: responsiveness, multi-level governance and public entrepreneurship. This assertion directs us to analyze the role of public administrators and local governments relative to the adoption of age friendly policies in multiple ways. This model begins with the assumptions that different forms of local governments, cities in this case, will result in different outcomes of responsiveness toward citizen interest in age friendly policy adoption. Further, it assumes that local levels of government are better able to assess and provide for the needs of their citizens from the perspective of devolution. Finally, it suggests that determinants, such as bureaucratic or political agents of change (Schneider, Teske, & Mintrom, 2011; Schneider & Teske, 1992) predict local government commitment to age-friendly policy adoption and implementation of new programs and services.

Specifically, this paper explores the adoption of age friendly policies by local governments and the influencing forces that cause local governments to adopt new and innovative policies overall. This paper looks at the literature in multiple dimensions and will first present and define age friendly policies as understood by both academics and practitioners. Next, we look at the evidence relative to local government responsiveness to the public interest, multi-level governance and changing investment patterns, and political entrepreneurship relative to local government policy adoption. …

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