The ability of public organizations to invest in emerging technologies is dependent upon the degree to which they can effectively manage the risks of being a lead-user in a political environment. However, little is known about the dimensions and implications of the different forms of risk faced by innovative public organizations as well as the strategies employed to manage them. This paper addresses these issues by studying how one public agency implements a program of replacing its transportation fleet with alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs).
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Anticipated federal and state level grants, rebates, emission reduction credits programs and, reductions in fuel use and maintenance, the initial strategy developed by the FPDDC expected the AFV conversion effort to actually net a savings of approximately $150,000 over ten years.
This describes a vehicle that needs significant repairs but, the cost of these is less than the purchase of a new vehicle.
Observations of the FPDDC AFV program at the half-way point of the program paints a picture at odds with this initial plan. For example, 1) to date the department as replaced 102 vehicles, which is more than 50 percent of its 180 on-road vehicles, however, the department anticipates “falling behind” this aggressive replacement schedule, 2) alternative fuel has lagged behind expected use by approximately 10 percent, 3) the net outlay per AFV is 15 percent higher than expected, and 4) the amount of grants and rebates has fallen short of expectations.
In the case of the FPDDC, it was anticipated that these grants would be used to offset the costs of infrastructure development, vehicle purchases and fuel purchases.
Haller et al.’s cost effectiveness analysis explicitly quantifies the difference between the initial strategic plan and outcomes at the mid-point of the AFV program, which is critical for considering the opportunism proposition (P1). Johns et al.’s end user adoption study helped us understand the relationship between internal innovations and the implementation of the AFV program.
Important baseline information with respect to key actors, AFV technology, and program goals and objectives was collected through a series of baseline interviews in 2005. However, the main empirical study was conducted over a three-month period in 2006.
Which costs approximately $800 per air box.
This program provides a cash rebate for 80-percent of the incremental extra cost of an alternative fuel vehicle with a maximum rebate of $4,000 per vehicle. Given that the Forest Preserve is a public agency exempt from property tax, the credit is actually taken by the auto dealer and passed through as a discount on vehicle price to the purchaser.
Which, however, is not to say that technical knowledge is not an important factor in the purchasing decisions. AFV managers made clear that they are less inclined to purchase AFV’s in which shop floor mechanics have found recurring problems or are more difficult to work with.
Although, as will be described below, technical knowledge in the FPDDC is still not truly explicit, as most of the technical know how is shared between only two key mechanics.
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Jacob, B., Welch, E. & Simms, T. Emergent Management Strategies in a Public Agency: A Case Study of Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Public Organ Rev 9, 213–234 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-009-0081-z