The Effect of New Public Management Reforms on Climate Change Adaptive Capacity: A Comparison of Urban Planning and the Electricity Sector

  • Tor Håkon InderbergEmail author
  • Knut Bjørn Stokke
  • Marte Winsvold
Living reference work entry


From the mid-1980s and onwards, a number of public institutions in Western democracies were subject to New Public Management (NPM) reforms, applying management tools from the private sector, oriented towards outcomes and efficiency. The chapter identifies organizational factors that influence adaptive capacity to climate change and finds that the NPM reforms have changed the sectors, significantly reducing adaptive capacity to climate change. In urban planning project planning has been moved to private actors, undermining formal responsibility for adaptation. In addition, an increased focus on efficiency and short-term market orientation has reduced adaptive capacity. For the electricity sector, the revolutionary change with the reform in 1991 led to an abrupt undermining of adaptive capacity. The radical change in incentive structures, from encouraging security of supply to an extreme focus on economic efficiency, downplayed robustness and adaptation. The change in formal structure is followed by a corresponding professional demographic change which further undermines adaptive capacity. Whereas both sectors were previously dominated by engineers focusing on robustness of constructions and maintenance, many economists focusing on cost reduction and economic efficiency were employed as a result of NPM reforms.

The chapter shows that adaptive capacity to climate change is influenced by a wide set of organizational factors beyond the traditional discussions, which have important practical implications for public administration.


Organizations Adaptive capacity Formal structure Culture Electricity sector Urban planning NPM Institutional logics NPM 


  1. Bye T, Hope E (2006) Electricity market reform – the Norwegian experience. In: Sørgard L (ed) Competition and welfare: The Norwegian experience. Norwegian Competition Authority, BergenGoogle Scholar
  2. Christensen T, Lægreid P (2001) A transformative perspective on administrative reforms. In: Christensen T, Lægreid P (eds) New public management. The transformation of ideas and practice. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  3. Christensen T, Røvik KA (1999) The ambiguity of appropriateness. In: Egeberg M, Legreid P (eds) Organizing political institutions. Scandinavian University Press, Oslo, pp 159–180Google Scholar
  4. Christensen T, Lie A, Lægreid P (2007) Still fragmented government or reassertion of the centre? In: Christensen T, Lægreid P (eds) Transcending new public management. The transformation of public sector reforms. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  5. Eakin H, Eriksen S, Eikeland PO, Øyen C (2011) Public sector reform and governance for adaptation: implications of new public management for adaptive capacity in Mexico and Norway. Environ Manag 47(3):338–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eriksen S, Selboe E (2011) The social organisation of adaptation to climate variability and global change: the case of a mountain farming community in Norway. Appl Geogr 33:159–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Falleth EI, Hanssen GS, Saglie IL (2010) Challenges to democracy in market-oriented urban planning in Norway. Auropean Planning Studies 18(5): 737–753Google Scholar
  8. Greenwood R, Oliver C, Sahlin K, Suddaby R (2008) Introduction. In: Greenwood R, Oliver C, Sahlin K, Suddaby R (eds) The SAGE handbook of organizational institutionalism. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Gregory R (2001) Transforming governmental culture: a sceptical view of new public management. In: Christensen T, Lægreid P (eds) New public management. The transformation of ideas and practice. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  10. Harvold K, Risan L (2010) Kommunal klima- og energiplanlegging. NIBR: OsloGoogle Scholar
  11. Hanssen GS, Saglie IL (2010) Cognitive closure in urban planning. Plan Theory Pract 11(4):491–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Høegh J, Pettersen J, Johansen IH, Bowitz E (2004) Regulering av bytransformasjon. ECON Analyse, OsloGoogle Scholar
  13. Huntjens P, Lebel L, Pahl-Wostl C, Camkin J, Schulze R, Kranz N (2012) Institutional design propositions for the governance of adaptation to climate change in the water sector. Glob Environ Change 22:67–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Inderberg TH (2011) Institutional constraints to adaptive capacity: adaptability to climate change in the Norwegian electricity sector. Local Environ 16(4):303–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Inderberg TH, Arntzen Løchen L (2012) Adaptation to climate change among electricity distribution companies in Norway and Sweden: lessons from the field. Local Environ 17(6–7: Special issue on Nordic Climate Change):663–678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. In: Solomon S, Quin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Contribution of working group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Klausen JE, Saglie IL, Stokke KB, Windsvold M Forthcoming 2015: Planning for climate change adaptation in urban areas. In: O’Brien K Selboe E (eds) The Adaptive Challenge of Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  18. Kleven T (2011) Fra gjenreisning til samfunnsplanlegging. Norsk kommuneplanlegging 1965–2004. Tapir akademiske forlag, OsloGoogle Scholar
  19. Langset T, Trengereid F, Samdal K, Heggeset J (2001) Quality dependent revenue caps – a model for quality of supply regulation. In: CIRED, 16th international conference and exhibition on (IEE conference publication no 482). IEE Conference publication, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Lounsbury M (2007) A tale of two cities: competing logics and practice variation in the professionalization of mutual funds. Acad Manag J 50(2):289–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mäntysalo R, Saglie IL, Cars G (2011) Between input legitimacy and output efficiency: defensive routines and agonistic reflectivity in Nordic land-use planning. Eur Plan Stud 19(12):2109–2126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. March JG (1994) A primer on decision-making. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. March JG, Olsen JP (1989) Rediscovering institutions: the organizational basis of politics. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Midttun A (1996) Electricity liberalization policies in Norway and Sweden. Political trade offs under cognitive limitations. Energy Policy 24(1):53–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Midttun A, Summerton J (1998) Loyalty or competition? A comparative analysis of Norwegian and Swedish electricity distributors’ adaptation to market reform. Energy Policy 26(2):143–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moen B, Harvold K, Strand A (2004) Byutviklingskonsulenten : fagekspert eller prosessaktivist i spenningsfeltet mellom det private initiativ og den offentlige vanmakt? NIBR, OsloGoogle Scholar
  27. Nordahl B (2006) Deciding on development: collaboration between markets and local government, institute of urban design and planning, faculty of architecture and fine art. NTNU, TrondheimGoogle Scholar
  28. O’Brien K, Eriksen S, Sygna L, Naess LO (2006) Questioning complacency: climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation in Norway. Ambio 35(2):50–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. O’Brien K, Leichenko RM (2008) Environmental change and globalisation: double exposures. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  30. Olje- og energidepartementet (1990) Lov om produksjon, omforming, overføring, omsetning, fordeling og bruk av energi m.m. (energiloven)Google Scholar
  31. Olsen PI (2000) Transforming economies. The case of the Norwegian electricity market reform. Norwegian School of Management BI, OsloGoogle Scholar
  32. Painter M (2001) Policy capacity and the effects of new public management. In: Christensen T, Lægreid P (eds) New public management. The transformation of ideas and practice. Ashgate, Hampshire, pp 209–230Google Scholar
  33. Palm J (2008) Emergency management in the Swedish electricity market: the need to challenge the responsibility gap. Energy Policy 36(2):843–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Reay T, Hinings CR (2009) Managing the rivalry of competing institutional logics. Organ Stud 30(6):629–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Smit B, Pilifosova O (2003) From Adaptation to Adaptive Capacity and Vulnerability Reduction. In Joel B, Smith, Klein, Richard JT, and Huq, Saleemul (eds) Climate Change, Adaptive Capacity and Development, 9-28. London: Imperial College PressGoogle Scholar
  36. Shore C (2008) Audit culture and illiberal governance. Anthropol Theory 8(3):278–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stoker G (1998) Governance as theory: five propositions. Int Soc Sci J 50(1):17–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Thornton PH, Ocasio W (2008) Institutional logics. In: Greenwood R, Oliver C, Sahlin K, Suddaby R (eds) The SAGE handbook of organizational institutionalism. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. Thue L (1996) Strøm og styring. Ad Notam Gyldendal AS, OsloGoogle Scholar
  40. Vogel SK (1996) Freer markets, more rules. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tor Håkon Inderberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Knut Bjørn Stokke
    • 2
  • Marte Winsvold
    • 3
  1. 1.Fridtjof Nansen InstituteLysakerNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional ResearchOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations