Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Graduate School


Public Policy and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Edward T. Jennings


Why do American states organize as they do for environmental protection? According to Moe (1990), “a positive theory of organizations has two goals: 1) explain where institutions come from and why they take the forms they do, and 2) understand their effects for political and social behavior.” This paper will examine Moe’s question in terms of state environmental agencies: What influences state adoption of a comprehensive environmental structure? To address this question, I develop a theory of state adoption of organizational structure drawing on organizational theories of public organizations. The latest comprehensive examination of state agency structure in the literature was in 1994 (Jessup, 1994) and provides no analysis, only a summary description of each agency. The most recent evaluation of states adoption of environmental agency structures was in 1975 (Beyle, 1975). My analysis builds on these studies.

This dissertation is structured in eight chapters. I first review the history of state environmental protection agencies in the context of the development of federal and state environmental laws. I also describe, in general, the federal and state government environmental structures and describe the comprehensive and incremental restructuring that states have undergone since 1960.

The second part of the dissertation develops a theory of state administrative agency adoption through a review of the organizational and political literature. Building on a model developed by Beyle (1975), this section describes how state environmental protection agencies develop in response to political motivations, administrative needs, socioeconomic characteristics, and environmental severity. I then test two empirical models based on this theory to understand why states chose to adopt a comprehensive state environmental protection agency and a Mini-EPA or Super-Agency structure.

The third part of the dissertation outlines the theory of state adoption of environmental policies, focusing on the role of decisional systems and specifically the state agency structure. I apply this theory to explore the influence of structure on adoption of environmental policies to address second and third generation pollution problems. These 12 policies are used to create an index of innovativeness. The final chapter summarizes the conclusions from the analyses, and future research prospects.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)