Whither Recreation and Parks? Understanding Change in Public Institutions Through a Theory of Adaptive Publicness

Whither Recreation and Parks? Understanding Change in Public Institutions Through a Theory of... Abstract Although publicness theory has been able to account for much of the elusive and sometimes-contested nature of the term public, many important questions remain under examined. Not least among these concern how publicness changes over time. This article proposes a theory of adaptive publicness to explain change in political and economic influence over an institution or set of institutions over time. Using examples from municipal parks and recreation, this article provides a typology of publicness adaptations and explores the political and market factors that bring them about. Although parks and recreation services have traditionally been viewed as primarily public services, important changes have taken place, which cannot be fully understood through a purely political lens. The growth of private companies operating in this space, complex networks of private and public actors, and the proliferation of nonprofit and philanthropic engagements requires conceptual perspectives that reach beyond traditional public-private sector logics. The origins and nature of public institutions has been an enduring theme in the study of social enterprises. Pre-modern perspectives contributed to theories of collective action (Ober 2009) and were complemented, centuries later, by Adam Smith’s writings on the division of labor and, later still, by Weber’s theories of bureaucratic organization (Weber 1920). Upon these early perspectives were built economic and behavioral theories of the firm (Cyert and March 2006) and theories on the political economy of organizations (Wamsley and Zald 1973). These theories all contend that there is a fundamental need in social systems not just for government, but public institutions more broadly. They are informed by the empirical reality that societies in nearly every form have evolved to include robust domains of public industry to provide for, protect, and promote the general welfare and interests of society. Accordingly, the roots of public organization and public administrative theories run as deep as any other social theories. Despite the proliferation of public administrative and public organization theories, the fundamental nature of public has proven to be an elusive, if not contested, topic. In modern societies there are very few examples of industries that are purely public—at least in the way public is traditionally characterized. As James Q. Wilson famously observed of “armies, schools and prisons” (Wilson 1989), there are many domains of public industry that include strong and important private sector participants. It is no wonder that recent decades have seen a proliferation of theories that take into account a more nuanced view of what it means to be public. Examples include perspectives on public-private hybrid organizations (Emmert and Crow 1988; Frumkin and Galaskiewicz 2004; Koppell 2010), public-private partnerships (Girth et al. 2012; Hefetz and Warner 2012; Warner and Hefetz 2008), and privatization of public organizations and the emergence of so-called quangos (Greve et al. 1999). The theory of dimensional publicness, the focus of this article, also contends with the nature of the term “public.” Dimensional publicness theory asserts that organizations can be characterized according to the particular mixture of political and economic authority under which they operate (Bozeman 1987; Bozeman, Reed, and Scott 1992; Haque 2001; Pesch 2008; Pierre 2011). The central assertion of dimensional publicness theory is that the characterization of organizations according to their legal status as “public” or “private” fails to account for variances in the intensity that the external influences of political authority and economic authority place upon virtually all organizations. Accordingly, through publicness theory, public and private are dimensions as opposed to dichotomous conditions. Although publicness theory has been able to account for much of the elusive and sometimes-contested nature of the term public, many important questions remain under examined. Not least among these concern how publicness changes over time. Issues of organizational, institutional and industrial change are of central importance to diverse domains of social inquiry. These include perspectives on organizational adaptation, which contend, in part, that: (a) organizations, institutions and industries exist in and are influenced by complex environmental conditions that sometimes change (Hrebiniak and Joyce 1985), and (b) organizations, institutions and industries faced with environmental change sometimes undergo structural or operational adjustments in coping with new conditions while maintaining their core purpose (Dutton and Dukerich 1991; Hrebiniak and Joyce 1985; Porter 1980). Given the joint emphasis that both dimensional publicness and organizational adaptation theories place on external influences, this article borrows from perspectives on adaptation in an effort to explain changes in publicness over time. More specifically, this article seeks to establish a conceptual basis for a theory of adaptive publicness to explain the structural and operational changes relative to political and market influences that an organization, institution or industry undergoes over time. Operationalized as such, the perspective on adaptive publicness presented here pertains to changes in the attributes of industries as they are situated in political and economic environments. This ambition is not to be confused with assessing the extent to which certain states of dimensional publicness are better suited for adaptation to environmental stimuli, which is critically important but beyond the scope of this article. This article proceeds with a summary of the existing research on dimensional publicness before discussing the central tenets of a proposed theory of adaptive publicness, which is considered here a contribution to dimensional publicness theory rather than a competing perspective. A challenge for advancing publicness theories is that they can be applied to assorted units of analysis including organizations (Anderson 2015), public policies (Chun and Rainey 2005), and institutions (Pandey 2010). For purposes of clarity, this article places a special emphasis on the structural and operational attributes of institutions, industries, and systems of organizations. Within this context, a typology of four publicness adaptations is provided, including specific examples of each. This article concludes with a discussion of the mechanisms that facilitate adaptations in institutional publicness. When discussing these mechanisms, an emphasis is placed on recognizing how assorted factors familiar to public organization and management theorists can operate as adaptive mechanisms. Literature documenting the possibility of “withering” municipal parks and recreation is used to provide greater explication on one of the typologies: the transformation of an industry from a state of high levels of political influence and low levels of market influence to low levels of political influence and high levels of market influence. In recent decades, municipal parks and recreation services have transformed from an industry comprised of purpose driven government-owned entities to an industry comprised of assorted networks of government, nonprofit, and business entities. Examples are highlighted regarding how one historically public enterprise—municipal parks and recreation—has shifted from a state of low-market influence and high political influence to high market influence and low political influence. This constitutes one of many different types of publicness adaptations. DIMENSIONAL PUBLICNESS Publicness theory has roots in the vast array of theoretical and empirical research on public-private sector differences, which incorporates a number of important and diverse perspectives, including those from political economy (Wamsley and Zald 1973), political science (Appleby 1943; Lindblom 1977), management (Flynn and Tannenbaum, 1993) and public administration (Wittmer 1991). Early research on sector differences advanced according to a so-called “core” differences logic (Bozeman and Bretschneider 1994), which implied that sector differences, while important, are easily explained through reflection on the public or private ownership or legal status of the organization. Later research integrated much needed internal managerial considerations with external environmental factors (Buelens and Van den Broek 2007; Wittmer 1991) to help explain the antecedents of sector differences and their variety of manifestations. Bozeman’s dimensional publicness model (Bozeman 1987) provided further insight by systematizing the idea that all organizations exist in states of varying combinations of influence from both market and political authority. Publicness according to Bozeman’s conceptualization is the “degree to which the organization is affected by political authority” (Bozeman 1987, xi). Privateness, then, is “the degree to which an organization exerts or is constrained by economic authority” (Pesch 2008, 81). All organizations experience some level of publicness and some level of privateness. Among the most recent major developments in publicness theory has been the establishment of integrative publicness, a framework that brings together empirical publicness and normative publicness in a manner that facilitates analysis of organizations (as well as public policies and programs) in ways that account for empirical environmental, managerial, and strategic factors as system inputs and normative public values as system outcomes (Bozeman and Moulton 2011). Bozeman and Moulton (2011) observe that, “the idea that organizations of all types are strongly influenced by both economic and political forces is not a new one” (364). For decades, scholars from economics and political science have examined the various relationships organizations have with markets and political systems. Such perspectives inform theoretical work on important concepts such as organizational legitimacy (Dahl and Lindblom 1953), organizational power (Wamsley and Zald 1973), and institutional risk (Arrow and Lind 1970; Smith 1981). In justifying research in this area, Wittmer (1991) noted that recognizing differences relative to publicness has “important implications for the design of alternative organizations and management strategies” (369), which influence productivity and value. The suggestion that different forms of publicness may have implications for productivity and value raises important normative questions about changes in the mixture of political and market authority under which organizations, institutions and industries operate. The state of theoretical and empirical research on topics of publicness has advanced in recent decades. Public administration researchers have played a principal role in fostering much of this progress. Although this domain of scholarly inquiry has grown to be as thoughtful and positivistic as any other in the social sciences, issues of publicness sometimes also become the providence of practical or political significance. For example, evolving publicness environments as represented by corporatization, competition, or changes in public support for an institution have been shown to effect the operations and effectiveness of substance abuse treatment centers (Miller and Moulton 2014) and hospitals (Lindlbauer, Winter, and Schreyogg 2016). In the case of public parks and recreation presented here, many states in recent years have reduced operations in the face of declining revenue. This reduction in resource publicness has been met with considerable public criticism. For example, funding and operation cuts to state parks in Arizona prompted the editorial board of that state’s major newspaper to declare: “Arizona’s state parks need advocates to survive…free state parks from lawmakers” (Editorial Board 2014). As will be highlighted later, trends on larger levels like states are often reflected on municipal levels as well, likely due to municipal dependency on higher level governments and their agencies (e.g., Jordan 2003). Publicness theory tends to focus on the organization as the entity of analysis; however, key attributes of publicness can be applied to systems of organizations and industries. For example, in education in the United States, research universities comprise a class of institutions that rely heavily on federal research agencies to support research operations. Accordingly, individual research universities may operate under varying levels of resource publicness determined by the volume of federal research support any individual university receives whereas research universities also comprise a class of institutions that collectively operate under the auspices of resource-based publicness that stems from federal science funding. This clarification is important as it helps situate the proposed theory of adaptive publicness as one that may pertain to individual organizations, systems of organizations or entire industries. The focus here is primarily on systems of organizations and industries. A PRELIMINARY MODEL OF ADAPTIVE PUBLICNESS Adaptive publicness is an extension of dimensional publicness theory. Scholars of organizational studies (Kaufman 1973) and public policy (Baumgartner, Jones, and Mortensen 2014) sometimes adopt evolutionary biology metaphors as tools to explain changes in systems over time. In this case, the concept of evolutionary adaptation is utilized to characterize ways in which organizations and institutions may change as a result of environmental pressures, specifically focusing on their traits relative to the mix of political and market authority under which they operate. External influence is therefore a critical concept for both publicness theory and concepts of organizational adaptation. The adaptive publicness conceptual model therefore begins with consideration of external influence. In the case of municipal parks, external influences of the political sort are easy to account for since they play a historically familiar and well-documented part of civic life. To begin, municipal parks are generally located in public spaces (Crompton 2017) and sometimes even implemented, maintained or enhanced in efforts to improve such space. Municipal parks have a long history of public support through appropriation of tax revenues (Crompton 1999a) and are often staffed by public employees. In the United States, improvements in municipal parks sometimes come about through political processes including ballot initiatives (Crompton 2017) and investments in parks are justified through the logic of assorted public benefits (Cheng et al. 2003). Finally, the ways in which municipal parks and recreation resources are used is often specified though formal legal processes and sometimes regulated by or subject to oversight from public agencies (e.g., water quality regulations at city pools). External influences of the market sort are, arguably, less easily identified, in part because they are relatively new and less familiar. In some instances, recreation services move towards more market sensitive schemes through the provision of fees (Cheng et al. 2003). In such instances, fees are determined in part through assessment of consumer willingness to pay, which in turn, subjects parks and recreation agencies to market demand forces. In other instances, parks and recreation departments have turned to philanthropy to source operating and capital improvement revenues (Borrie et al. 2006) and in some instances corporate sponsorship has also become a strategy. A growing trend in this space has been the privatization of parks and recreation. In some instances, neighborhood associations and designers of centrally planned communities have replaced municipal facilities with privately managed (i.e., association-managed) facilities including parks and pools (Crompton 1999a). But the market nature of many of these adaptations is not altogether clear since political leaders often oversee, approve, or regulate the undertakings (Arnold, 1990).1 The theory of adaptive publicness recognizes that assorted forms of political and market influences exist in the broader parks and recreation environment and that from time to time the balance of political and market influence changes. An important contention through adaptive publicness theory is that the core function of parks and recreation services does not change through the process of adaptation. So, in the case of parks and recreation, the emergence of large-scale private service providers necessarily represents a new state of publicness but does not necessarily require a change in the nature of the service being provided. This distinction allows us to recognize that there are strategies of private recreation service providers—such as capital-intensive theme parks that charge admittance fees—that have emerged in greater prominence among public recreation providers. For example, public golf courses and pools have charged admission fees since the 1960s to recoup their operation costs and pad municipal parks and recreation budgets due to high demand for these services. In these instances more prevalent today, we contend that the emergence of these private sector providers constitutes more than a mere publicness adaptation, a change that may be more accurately characterized as an industrial transformation. Theme parks constitute another industry that has demonstrated itself as a growth industry benefiting from high demand (Milman 2001; 2010). The case of theme parks also underscores the idea that new institutional forms may come with new intentions. For example, at least part of the original notion of modern public parks rested upon a popular consensus that it is important to offer certain space and recreational services to citizens of limited means (Hansan 2013) whereas the emergence of expensive fee-based theme parks stem, at least in part, from opportunities to generate profit. Additionally, parks and recreation as a service to those of limited means may have once been seen as an asset, which aimed to make communities more attractive to newcomers and to outsiders who might come live in their communities (City of Phoenix, n.d.). There are at least two ways in which a theory of adaptive publicness integrates existing ideas from other social scientific theories, especially in the domain of public administration and public policy. First, the notion of publicness “adaptation strategies” is presented to help describe the specific approaches and tools organizations and institutions may use or subject themselves to as they change from one state of publicness to another. Many of these adaptation strategies are well documented in other literatures, but they are not necessarily identified as concepts related to publicness. Thus, the theory of adaptive publicness presented here serves a linking function by integrating existing organization, management, and policy theories. Second, there are several different types of publicness adaptations, varying based on beginning and end states of publicness. Accordingly, different types of publicness adaptations may be explained through existing theories of industrial change including corporatization, privatization, and bureaucratization. Figure 1 provides an overview of several types of publicness adaptations and table 1 provides examples. This study focuses on a “Type 2” publicness adaptation, wherein a historically public industry is slowly privatized over time; however, privatization is discussed as a process occurring in both nonprofit and for-profit contexts. The Type 2 shift of decreasing political authority and increasing market authority is highlighted next in the case the municipal parks and recreation. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Typologies of Publicness Adaptations Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Typologies of Publicness Adaptations Table 1. Typology of Publicness Adaptations Adaptation Type Beginning State End State Description Example Type 1 High political authority, Low market authority High political authority, High market authority Growth of a historically public industry to include private sector actors Growth of for-profit education companies Type 2 High political authority, Low market authority Low political authority, High market authority Privatization of a historically public industry Decline of local parks and recreation with growth of private alternatives Type 3 Low political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of minimally regulated private industries Formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following 9/11 Type 4 High political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of highly regulated private industry Government assumed control over Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association Adaptation Type Beginning State End State Description Example Type 1 High political authority, Low market authority High political authority, High market authority Growth of a historically public industry to include private sector actors Growth of for-profit education companies Type 2 High political authority, Low market authority Low political authority, High market authority Privatization of a historically public industry Decline of local parks and recreation with growth of private alternatives Type 3 Low political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of minimally regulated private industries Formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following 9/11 Type 4 High political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of highly regulated private industry Government assumed control over Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association View Large Table 1. Typology of Publicness Adaptations Adaptation Type Beginning State End State Description Example Type 1 High political authority, Low market authority High political authority, High market authority Growth of a historically public industry to include private sector actors Growth of for-profit education companies Type 2 High political authority, Low market authority Low political authority, High market authority Privatization of a historically public industry Decline of local parks and recreation with growth of private alternatives Type 3 Low political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of minimally regulated private industries Formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following 9/11 Type 4 High political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of highly regulated private industry Government assumed control over Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association Adaptation Type Beginning State End State Description Example Type 1 High political authority, Low market authority High political authority, High market authority Growth of a historically public industry to include private sector actors Growth of for-profit education companies Type 2 High political authority, Low market authority Low political authority, High market authority Privatization of a historically public industry Decline of local parks and recreation with growth of private alternatives Type 3 Low political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of minimally regulated private industries Formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following 9/11 Type 4 High political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of highly regulated private industry Government assumed control over Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association View Large THE CASE OF MUNICIPAL PARKS AND RECREATION In the United States, municipal parks and recreation works as a strong case for understanding adaptive publicness because it, like many public service agencies, has seen substantial changes in public financial and political support in just over half a century (Connolly and Smale 2001; Hope and Dempsey 2000). Political and financial support for parks and recreation comes from assorted federal, state, and local sources, and the history of resource uncertainty and its effects upon the industry provides a vivid case study for adaptation. Analysis of the history of support for parks and recreation as a public service industry demonstrates significant variation in recent decades (for earlier see Cranz 1982). Given the heterogeneity of municipalities in the United States, what follows is an account of mostly federal changes in support for parks and recreation as a public service industry. A summary and timeline of those changes are outlined in table 2; more parks and recreation specific examples are available in the table than in the manuscript. As shown and discussed, the changes on the federal level are generally mirrored by state and local changes, but this mirroring is not pre-ordained, especially at the local level. The changes presented serve to make the case that parks and recreation operates and has operated in a context of increasing volatility and uncertainty. Table 2. Historical Events in Municipal Parks and Recreation in the Mid-20th to 21st Century Year(s) Event Shifts Felt by Parks and Recreation Environment 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act Local parks and recreation services receive and utilize resources to expand infrastructure without long-term plans to necessitate the maintenance of such structures. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1965 Formation of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) A unified body for the promotion of local parks and recreation services is born. Increased Political Resources 1974 Community Development Block Grant Program Local parks and recreation services receive a relatively small amount of funds for improvements in public works; however most resources are directed towards housing projects. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1977 Absorption of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation into the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) A dedicated unit of the government that served local parks and recreation was consolidated into a larger more detached from local affairs agency. Decreased Political Resources 1978 Passage of Proposition 13 in California The amendment to the Constitution of California to limit property taxation serves as an epitome to the emerging tax limitation movement. Decreased Political Resources 1981 Absolution of the HCRS and transfer of duties to the National Parks Service An already less locally focused agency becomes even more less localized in focus. Decreased Political Resources Early 1980s The Early 1980s Recession Municipal expenditures are curtailed paralleling the tax limitation movement. Despite trends towards cuts, expansion occurs across the United States in local parks and recreation services. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Early 1990s The Early 1990s Global Recession The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources 1995 Inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program A relatively small amount of resources were provided to local municipalities for redevelopment of perceived and actual contaminated sites that lack use or are abandoned. Increased Financial and Political Resources Late 1990s Perceived Golden Years of Parks and Recreation Local parks and recreation does not receive decreased cuts in appropriations contrary to previous years. No Real Change in Political or Financial Support 2002 Defunding of Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) A locally focused federal program for urban cities and counties is lost as a resource. Previously matching grants and technical assistance are no longer made available. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 2000s to Early 2010s The Great Recession of the Late 2000s and Early 2010s Local parks and recreation receive further cuts in services whilst a great deal of infrastructure remains in need of care across communities. Decreased Financial and Political Resources The National Park Service was not keeping pace with inflation as measured between 2005 and 2014, despite increases in fees and donations. Nominally, total funding during those years increased 15% from $2.7 to $3.1 billion; however, this was really a 3% decline after adjusting for inflation. On the state-level, the US Census of 2016 showed a decline in expenditures between 2012 and 2014. Year(s) Event Shifts Felt by Parks and Recreation Environment 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act Local parks and recreation services receive and utilize resources to expand infrastructure without long-term plans to necessitate the maintenance of such structures. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1965 Formation of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) A unified body for the promotion of local parks and recreation services is born. Increased Political Resources 1974 Community Development Block Grant Program Local parks and recreation services receive a relatively small amount of funds for improvements in public works; however most resources are directed towards housing projects. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1977 Absorption of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation into the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) A dedicated unit of the government that served local parks and recreation was consolidated into a larger more detached from local affairs agency. Decreased Political Resources 1978 Passage of Proposition 13 in California The amendment to the Constitution of California to limit property taxation serves as an epitome to the emerging tax limitation movement. Decreased Political Resources 1981 Absolution of the HCRS and transfer of duties to the National Parks Service An already less locally focused agency becomes even more less localized in focus. Decreased Political Resources Early 1980s The Early 1980s Recession Municipal expenditures are curtailed paralleling the tax limitation movement. Despite trends towards cuts, expansion occurs across the United States in local parks and recreation services. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Early 1990s The Early 1990s Global Recession The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources 1995 Inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program A relatively small amount of resources were provided to local municipalities for redevelopment of perceived and actual contaminated sites that lack use or are abandoned. Increased Financial and Political Resources Late 1990s Perceived Golden Years of Parks and Recreation Local parks and recreation does not receive decreased cuts in appropriations contrary to previous years. No Real Change in Political or Financial Support 2002 Defunding of Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) A locally focused federal program for urban cities and counties is lost as a resource. Previously matching grants and technical assistance are no longer made available. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 2000s to Early 2010s The Great Recession of the Late 2000s and Early 2010s Local parks and recreation receive further cuts in services whilst a great deal of infrastructure remains in need of care across communities. Decreased Financial and Political Resources The National Park Service was not keeping pace with inflation as measured between 2005 and 2014, despite increases in fees and donations. Nominally, total funding during those years increased 15% from $2.7 to $3.1 billion; however, this was really a 3% decline after adjusting for inflation. On the state-level, the US Census of 2016 showed a decline in expenditures between 2012 and 2014. View Large Table 2. Historical Events in Municipal Parks and Recreation in the Mid-20th to 21st Century Year(s) Event Shifts Felt by Parks and Recreation Environment 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act Local parks and recreation services receive and utilize resources to expand infrastructure without long-term plans to necessitate the maintenance of such structures. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1965 Formation of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) A unified body for the promotion of local parks and recreation services is born. Increased Political Resources 1974 Community Development Block Grant Program Local parks and recreation services receive a relatively small amount of funds for improvements in public works; however most resources are directed towards housing projects. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1977 Absorption of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation into the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) A dedicated unit of the government that served local parks and recreation was consolidated into a larger more detached from local affairs agency. Decreased Political Resources 1978 Passage of Proposition 13 in California The amendment to the Constitution of California to limit property taxation serves as an epitome to the emerging tax limitation movement. Decreased Political Resources 1981 Absolution of the HCRS and transfer of duties to the National Parks Service An already less locally focused agency becomes even more less localized in focus. Decreased Political Resources Early 1980s The Early 1980s Recession Municipal expenditures are curtailed paralleling the tax limitation movement. Despite trends towards cuts, expansion occurs across the United States in local parks and recreation services. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Early 1990s The Early 1990s Global Recession The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources 1995 Inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program A relatively small amount of resources were provided to local municipalities for redevelopment of perceived and actual contaminated sites that lack use or are abandoned. Increased Financial and Political Resources Late 1990s Perceived Golden Years of Parks and Recreation Local parks and recreation does not receive decreased cuts in appropriations contrary to previous years. No Real Change in Political or Financial Support 2002 Defunding of Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) A locally focused federal program for urban cities and counties is lost as a resource. Previously matching grants and technical assistance are no longer made available. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 2000s to Early 2010s The Great Recession of the Late 2000s and Early 2010s Local parks and recreation receive further cuts in services whilst a great deal of infrastructure remains in need of care across communities. Decreased Financial and Political Resources The National Park Service was not keeping pace with inflation as measured between 2005 and 2014, despite increases in fees and donations. Nominally, total funding during those years increased 15% from $2.7 to $3.1 billion; however, this was really a 3% decline after adjusting for inflation. On the state-level, the US Census of 2016 showed a decline in expenditures between 2012 and 2014. Year(s) Event Shifts Felt by Parks and Recreation Environment 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act Local parks and recreation services receive and utilize resources to expand infrastructure without long-term plans to necessitate the maintenance of such structures. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1965 Formation of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) A unified body for the promotion of local parks and recreation services is born. Increased Political Resources 1974 Community Development Block Grant Program Local parks and recreation services receive a relatively small amount of funds for improvements in public works; however most resources are directed towards housing projects. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1977 Absorption of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation into the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) A dedicated unit of the government that served local parks and recreation was consolidated into a larger more detached from local affairs agency. Decreased Political Resources 1978 Passage of Proposition 13 in California The amendment to the Constitution of California to limit property taxation serves as an epitome to the emerging tax limitation movement. Decreased Political Resources 1981 Absolution of the HCRS and transfer of duties to the National Parks Service An already less locally focused agency becomes even more less localized in focus. Decreased Political Resources Early 1980s The Early 1980s Recession Municipal expenditures are curtailed paralleling the tax limitation movement. Despite trends towards cuts, expansion occurs across the United States in local parks and recreation services. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Early 1990s The Early 1990s Global Recession The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources 1995 Inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program A relatively small amount of resources were provided to local municipalities for redevelopment of perceived and actual contaminated sites that lack use or are abandoned. Increased Financial and Political Resources Late 1990s Perceived Golden Years of Parks and Recreation Local parks and recreation does not receive decreased cuts in appropriations contrary to previous years. No Real Change in Political or Financial Support 2002 Defunding of Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) A locally focused federal program for urban cities and counties is lost as a resource. Previously matching grants and technical assistance are no longer made available. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 2000s to Early 2010s The Great Recession of the Late 2000s and Early 2010s Local parks and recreation receive further cuts in services whilst a great deal of infrastructure remains in need of care across communities. Decreased Financial and Political Resources The National Park Service was not keeping pace with inflation as measured between 2005 and 2014, despite increases in fees and donations. Nominally, total funding during those years increased 15% from $2.7 to $3.1 billion; however, this was really a 3% decline after adjusting for inflation. On the state-level, the US Census of 2016 showed a decline in expenditures between 2012 and 2014. View Large The 1960s to 1980s: Birth, Emergence, and Ambivalence 1965 is an important demarcation point in the history of municipal parks and recreation in the United States. The National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) was created to advance parks and recreation, and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 stimulated an expansion of infrastructure for local parks and recreation services. Although the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act became the bedrock policy for modern municipal parks and recreation in the United States, it failed to put into place effective plans to maintain the structures and facilities built (Vincent 2006), and the duty of maintaining the infrastructures built following the 1965 act fell to local governments (Bradford, Malt, and Oats 1969). The economic slowdown of the late 1970s and recession of the early 1980s brought about decreases in political resources, which would be followed by decreases in public financial resources (Barbour 2007). This led to substantial curtailment of expenditures for municipal parks and recreation (Crompton and Kaczynski 2003) and consolidation of political bodies aimed to advance parks and recreation (Diamond 1983). Congruently, it also fostered strong opposition regarding the expansion of parks and recreation in the United States (Tinianow 1982). The late 1980s and early 1990s were ambivalent times for municipal parks and recreation because of political polarization around spending resulting from the infamous “savings and loan.” Haley (1990) noted that recreation resources during the 1980s were perceived to have expanded, despite cuts, since 1965. Even with the standing presence of the tax limitation movement, increases in expenditures were seen in the late 1980s and the 1990s, likely due to the resilience of the national economy (Crompton and Kaczynski 2003). Although minor expansion may have occurred, the expansion was not nearly as salient or prominent as seen in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The 1990s: “The Golden Years” The mid- to late 1990s were acclaimed as “the golden years” (Crompton and Kaczynski 2003, 142–143) of modern municipal parks and recreation. The era saw funding for brownfield redevelopment (Solitare and Greenberg 2002) and an unprecedented level of expenditures regarding municipal parks and recreation (Greenberg and Hollander 2006; Solitare and Greenberg 2002). Despite the “golden years” claim, uncertainty and volatility in both political and financial support of parks and recreations as a public service industry became overtly apparent in the 1990s and carried into the 2000s. Measured over a longer period of time and compared to other public services, the growth during the 1990s now seems less profound. From 1989 to 2003, Kaczynski and Crompton (2006) noted that parks and recreation’s share of total municipal government expenses had remained stable at around 2.4%. They found that parks and recreation consistently ranked eighth out of ten types of government services, only superseding corrections and libraries in proportion of total government expenditures. They concluded that such stability in expenditures was likely due to “incremental budgeting procedures and the inflexibility of civil service regulations” (84). A follow up study of similar nature has yet to be conducted. The 2000s to Early 2010s: Reduction Turning away from the mid-century belief that higher taxes and higher levels of government spending could serve a social function and contribute to economic growth (Musgrave 1959; Samuelson 1954), a consistent call across municipalities for reduction in parks and recreation funding was issued during the 2000s. Connolly and Smale (2001) noted the future provision of US parks and recreation services was highly subject to tax reduction legislation. Municipal parks and recreation was left to find ways to diversify in order to meet community needs as governments addressed their increasing debt (Barnes and Brayley 2006; Godbey 2006). The so-called “double-dip” in 2010 of the Great Recession led to a decrease in expenditures, staffing, and revenue, especially for agencies in the middle and upper quartiles of these measures (NRPA 2015). Despite economic stress during that time, Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land (Rogers 2011), writes of the political will and actions on behalf of some mayors and urban cities: “…mayors once again understand that they can’t have a great city without a great park system… Cities are investing as never before in central and neighborhood parks, gardens, greenways, trails, playgrounds, and urban natural areas. And yet reliable data to guide public and private investment and shape the future of our nation’s city park systems is very hard to come by” (p. 1). Federal and state level funding for parks and recreation decreased but not necessarily drastically. This decline on the federal level was rooted (after adjusting for inflation) in an 8% decline in annual appropriations and a 39% increase in fees, donations, and other funding sources (U.S. Government Accountability Office 2016). A positive sign of growth in the US Census (2016) findings in the 2.7% growth in municipal parks and recreation employment between 2013 and 2014 of which 36.1% of those added jobs full-time. Thus, regarding full-blown withering, the data are mixed. The Status of Parks and Recreation Revenues for parks and recreation have grown through fees for food and services, whereas expenses have flattened. Still, overall agency budgets have not yet returned to 2010 levels (NRPA 2015). The NRPA (2015) concluded that, “jurisdictional budgets show cause for optimism about continued economic recovering. Given that the recovery is sluggish, however, agencies can expect to continue to face fierce competition for public dollars” (2). Overall, there still remains a growing deficiency regarding fully maintaining and utilizing even the current infrastructure of municipal parks and recreation across the United States (NRPA 2015). Additional concerns have emerged regarding unfunded pension liabilities for retirees from park and recreation services (Dolesh and Roth, 2017); this is a concern for other public services. The demand for parks and recreation has decreased. Recent estimates suggest municipal park attendance is flat or in decline, and recreation services offered to children, older adults, and persons with disabilities have stagnated over the past 4 years. These findings deserve further investigations. Questions remain, such as whether increasing fees are making services less available and/or driving people to look at private sector competitors now that there are market prices for the services. Still, the decreasing demand for educational programs offered by municipal parks and recreation services appears to have stabilized (Culverhouse 2015; NRPA 2015). The (albeit more expensive) substitutes for municipal parks and recreation, such as amusement/theme parks, water parks, and museums, all have shown global upswings in attendance (Au et al. 2015). Today, municipal parks and recreation has a perceived value problem (Panza and Cipriano 2004), which requires adaptation to continue to serve its public mission, as its services are not seen in the same regard as fire, police, and sanitation services. It may be possible that this lack of perceived value and funding has led parks and recreation services to pioneer new funding methods that are more likely aimed at addressing the burden of maintaining current facilities rather than programs (NRPA 2015). Or more simply, municipal parks and recreation may not be (or be seen) as essential as the others, and thus loses out in public funding commitments. Therefore, parks and recreation as an industry serves as a well-fitting case for understanding adaptive publicness because of the external changes that have impacted the public service, the economic and social value municipal parks and recreation brings to communities, and the impetus that municipal parks and recreation faces to adapt while upholding its core and historic public mission. PUBLICNESS ADAPTATION MECHANISMS The case of municipal parks and recreation illustrates changes and adaptations needed related to both market and political authority. In this section, the adaptation mechanisms seen in a Type II shift (see again figure 1) are presented using municipal parks and recreation as an example case for understanding publicness. The adaptation mechanisms relate closely to trends that might be seen in other municipal or public services. A summation is available in table 3, which depicts lines of thinking around how parks and recreation can transform in response to the decline in public funds and support. Such trends are discussed regarding the Type 2 shift where political authority decreases and market authority increases. Table 3. Adaptation Mechanisms Aim Mechanism Description of Strategies Examples From Municipal Recreation and Parks Increase revenue Fees and charges In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers charge for particular services and amenities. Many cities like Seattle utilize rentals fees for daily use of facilities (e.g., pools or courts) and equipment (e.g., balls or rackets) or for holding special events. Philanthropy sponsorship In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out donations from the public, from nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Sponsorship, which includes naming rights is currently gaining traction in public support and public management discussions. A Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations from citizens and nonprofit charities and foundations. Crowd sourcing has become another strategy used to fund parks (at least the development of new ones). On a small scale, parks have benches sponsored and engraved with names. On a larger scale, prominent parks and recreation departments like Oakland, California and Fairfax County, Virginia have introduced plans for naming rights to their parks. Decrease expenses Partnerships contracting privatization In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out nonprofit and for-profit service providers to fulfil functions they would have otherwise conducted themselves. Many local parks and recreation providers like Austin, Texas contract out with instructors to teach courses. A number of other cities like Adrian, Michigan have partnered with YMCAs (or other organizations) to provide programs to local citizens. On a larger scale, private parks and recreation management companies have emerged like Recreation Resource Management. Reduction and retrenchment In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers have downsized, closed, or sold off facilities and land. Local agencies may take heed the strategies of states like Arizona, which closed 21 of 30 state parks in the summer of 2010 to deal with the effects of the Great Recession. Aim Mechanism Description of Strategies Examples From Municipal Recreation and Parks Increase revenue Fees and charges In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers charge for particular services and amenities. Many cities like Seattle utilize rentals fees for daily use of facilities (e.g., pools or courts) and equipment (e.g., balls or rackets) or for holding special events. Philanthropy sponsorship In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out donations from the public, from nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Sponsorship, which includes naming rights is currently gaining traction in public support and public management discussions. A Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations from citizens and nonprofit charities and foundations. Crowd sourcing has become another strategy used to fund parks (at least the development of new ones). On a small scale, parks have benches sponsored and engraved with names. On a larger scale, prominent parks and recreation departments like Oakland, California and Fairfax County, Virginia have introduced plans for naming rights to their parks. Decrease expenses Partnerships contracting privatization In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out nonprofit and for-profit service providers to fulfil functions they would have otherwise conducted themselves. Many local parks and recreation providers like Austin, Texas contract out with instructors to teach courses. A number of other cities like Adrian, Michigan have partnered with YMCAs (or other organizations) to provide programs to local citizens. On a larger scale, private parks and recreation management companies have emerged like Recreation Resource Management. Reduction and retrenchment In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers have downsized, closed, or sold off facilities and land. Local agencies may take heed the strategies of states like Arizona, which closed 21 of 30 state parks in the summer of 2010 to deal with the effects of the Great Recession. View Large Table 3. Adaptation Mechanisms Aim Mechanism Description of Strategies Examples From Municipal Recreation and Parks Increase revenue Fees and charges In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers charge for particular services and amenities. Many cities like Seattle utilize rentals fees for daily use of facilities (e.g., pools or courts) and equipment (e.g., balls or rackets) or for holding special events. Philanthropy sponsorship In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out donations from the public, from nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Sponsorship, which includes naming rights is currently gaining traction in public support and public management discussions. A Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations from citizens and nonprofit charities and foundations. Crowd sourcing has become another strategy used to fund parks (at least the development of new ones). On a small scale, parks have benches sponsored and engraved with names. On a larger scale, prominent parks and recreation departments like Oakland, California and Fairfax County, Virginia have introduced plans for naming rights to their parks. Decrease expenses Partnerships contracting privatization In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out nonprofit and for-profit service providers to fulfil functions they would have otherwise conducted themselves. Many local parks and recreation providers like Austin, Texas contract out with instructors to teach courses. A number of other cities like Adrian, Michigan have partnered with YMCAs (or other organizations) to provide programs to local citizens. On a larger scale, private parks and recreation management companies have emerged like Recreation Resource Management. Reduction and retrenchment In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers have downsized, closed, or sold off facilities and land. Local agencies may take heed the strategies of states like Arizona, which closed 21 of 30 state parks in the summer of 2010 to deal with the effects of the Great Recession. Aim Mechanism Description of Strategies Examples From Municipal Recreation and Parks Increase revenue Fees and charges In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers charge for particular services and amenities. Many cities like Seattle utilize rentals fees for daily use of facilities (e.g., pools or courts) and equipment (e.g., balls or rackets) or for holding special events. Philanthropy sponsorship In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out donations from the public, from nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Sponsorship, which includes naming rights is currently gaining traction in public support and public management discussions. A Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations from citizens and nonprofit charities and foundations. Crowd sourcing has become another strategy used to fund parks (at least the development of new ones). On a small scale, parks have benches sponsored and engraved with names. On a larger scale, prominent parks and recreation departments like Oakland, California and Fairfax County, Virginia have introduced plans for naming rights to their parks. Decrease expenses Partnerships contracting privatization In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out nonprofit and for-profit service providers to fulfil functions they would have otherwise conducted themselves. Many local parks and recreation providers like Austin, Texas contract out with instructors to teach courses. A number of other cities like Adrian, Michigan have partnered with YMCAs (or other organizations) to provide programs to local citizens. On a larger scale, private parks and recreation management companies have emerged like Recreation Resource Management. Reduction and retrenchment In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers have downsized, closed, or sold off facilities and land. Local agencies may take heed the strategies of states like Arizona, which closed 21 of 30 state parks in the summer of 2010 to deal with the effects of the Great Recession. View Large Fees and Charges To avoid venturing outside of the public services realm and losing a great deal of political authority, a likely first choice for adaptation is to adopt fees and charges, which may place some or all the burden of its costs and operating expenses on its users. Park (2017) notes the local revenue potential of nontax sources such as fees/charges and fines/forfeitures, especially when faced with a worsening economic situation. Godbey (2006) predicted that successful leisure services would need to rethink “pricing, timing, and platforms” (244). In response to declining federal support to municipalities, many parks and recreation agencies, programs, and facilities have turned to user fees or charges to cover their operating costs (Chipkin 2011; Godbey et al. 2005). Modern municipal parks and recreation providers may self-generate up to a third of their total revenue (Crompton and Kaczynski 2003), primarily from program/class fees and charges, facility entry fees/memberships, and facility rental fees (NRPA 2015). Along with removing some of the financing burden from taxpayers, user fees have also been shown to reduce overall expenditure (Sun and Jung 2012). However, the practice of charging user fees gives rise to questions of social equality. Parks that charge user fees may result in a service that has traditionally been viewed as a public good becoming inaccessible to low income residents, or those residents may receive lower quality services (Engelberg et al. 2016), which is a consequence of significance for publicness. The need to properly price these fees and charges enters municipal parks and recreation enters it into the market as a service that can be bought and sold and compared to alternative services available, which overall changes its level of market authority. The shift appears more reflective of a Type 1 change (table 1) with the increase in market authority, but may be a road to decreases in political authority, which underpins a Type 2 change. Further, the question arises, “At what point (price or quantity) do fees (even if charged by public entities) make a public resource private?” (for more on this debate, see More and Stevens, 2000). Philanthropy and Sponsorship A second option, should fees and charges not cover costs, would be to reduce services. Parks and recreation providers might also look to the private or nonprofit sectors for philanthropy or sponsorships. Fundraising and development of revenue streams outside of public financing have also been proposed as solutions to declining tax bases for municipal parks and recreation (Perlmutter and Cnaan 1995). For example, the Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations to support department initiatives (Perlmutter and Cnaan 1995). Mizrahi (2012) found that given the right conditions (e.g., market and government failures) citizens will be driven to self-provide, utilizing informal methods and strategies to satisfy their immediate needs for particular public services. The industry is now beginning to see Kickstarter funding campaigns for “pocket parks” (e.g., Scott 2014) or “parklets” (e.g., Morlan 2014) in metropolitan areas and the proliferation of private parks and recreation facilities (e.g., Coats 2013). Foundations and nonprofit charities are often strong allies in support of parks and recreation services (Crompton 1999a). Many parks and recreation managers pursue foundation grants to cope with financial shortfalls (Barnes and Brayley 2006; Crompton 1999a). These findings are consistent with previous work surrounding the coproduction of public service delivery between nonprofits and public service providers, whereas nonprofits may solicit funds for service-providers or serve as substitutes for services (Paarlberg and Gen 2008). Corporate sponsorship of parks has become increasingly popular (Crompton 1999a; Mowen, Kyle, and Jackowski 2007). Three frequent reasons for considering corporate sponsorships are: (a) revenue is critically needed; (b) strategies are needed to deal with a large increase in the scale and number of programs; and, (c) a firmer comprehension of sponsorship has been reached by government agencies (Crompton 1999a, 1999b). There do appear to be a number of concerns to be addressed with corporate sponsorship, despite apparent community support for it as a strategy. Local residents may support sponsorship when such sponsorship is from local businesses and where services are provided with no or limited user fees (Mowen et al. 2007). However, Mowen and colleagues (2007) found that, “Sponsorships involving naming rights, exclusivity, and user fees were evaluated least favorably” (94). There were also differences between users, ages, and ethnic minority groups. “By whom” and “in what contexts” again appear as concerns of local citizens when outsourcing their local services (e.g., Ferris and Graddy 1986). Caution and solicitation of public opinion are essential when considering corporate sponsorship (Pitas et al. 2015). Sponsorship not only impacts financing, but also public perception and political authority, which can lead to controversy. An example of such controversy can be seen in the 2016 changes in donor recognition by the US National Parks Service, which many have criticized as one step towards direct corporate sponsorship (Schaffer 2016). These tensions reflect the Type 2 shift where political authority at least has the appearance of being lessoned and market authority whether in either the social or for-profit sector or both is increased. Partnerships, Contracting, and Privatization Even more drastically, parks and recreation may become privatized in whole or in part by (nonprofit and for-profit) organizations that are willing to provide services, which may or may not come with a fee or charge for users. Municipal parks and recreation has sought to build relationships with local citizens and nonprofit and for-profit contractors to provide direct services (Edginton et al. 2001; Jang 2006; Silverberg, Marshall, and Ellis 2001). Many municipal parks and recreation providers still rely on volunteers to carry out their daily affairs and local events (Silverberg et al. 2001). Others utilize local volunteer boards to support their services (Dougherty and Easton 2011). Additionally, many municipal parks and recreation providers contract with local citizens to serve as instructors or facilitators for their programs (Marsh, Derose, and Cohen 2012). For many, the government agency is no longer the direct service provider, yet their role has shifted to be the enabler of services and programs that increase community well-being. Smith (1991) wrote, “While the community recreation agency should continue to provide programs and operate facilities, in the future, the role of the agency must evolve into that of a facilitator and coordinator of all organizations in the community that provide recreation services” (63). Seeking to fulfill their social mission, nonprofits have moved program delivery roles for parks and recreation services. Jang (2006) noted the lucrativeness of partnerships and contracts with nonprofits: “If nonprofit contractors have a significant cost advantage over other production choices, the competitiveness of the market for potential nonprofit contractors should lead higher efficiency gains from contracting out to nonprofits” (815). Privatization of services has become a common strategy enacted by many in parks and recreation. Callahan (1989) identified the need and opportunity for local public parks and recreation to privatize services (see also Edginton et al. 2001), and privatization is increasingly seen as a way to improve services and control costs in easily measurable, technical fields (Barnekov and Raffel 1990). Many cities have moved towards privatizing services to reduce costs, raise revenues, improve services, reduce public employee numbers, limit legal liabilities, reduce the influence of unions, and gain access to more skillful workers. Poister and Henry (1994) in their comparison of private and public services found no differences in citizen attitudes towards the quality of those services. Public services may not actually be inferior to those provided by the private sector and vice versa. Overall, city officials in the late 1990s felt that privatization did reduce costs and improve delivery across city services (Dilger et al., 1997). Furthermore, Crompton (1998) summarized the four primary forces that have pushed agencies to pursue privatization as a method: (a) frustration with the rigid and high costs of traditional direct service methods; (b) convergence in political ideology on privatization as a strategy; (c) acknowledgement that the supply of monopolized services is inherently inefficient; and, (d) public awareness of the difference between service production and provision. Thus, privatization serves as a direct response to the political desires to lower taxes, reduce the monopolistic activity of government, and separate decision making from service delivery. Nonprofits appear to receive longer-term contracts than for-profits; however, nonprofit privatization is pursued far less by local municipalities than for-profit privatization (Gilroy 2010; Warner and Hefetz 2009). With nonprofit privatization, the high degree of task uncertainty and low degree of accountability in the relationship between the nonprofit service provider and public entity are potential pitfalls. Public officials appear to put more trust in nonprofits than for-profits when contracting out services (Witesman and Fernandez 2012). More recently, Jang (2006) noted, “Although contracting out the delivery of municipal service has been attractive to local government because it often promises substantial cost savings…[it has] not always held that contracting out reduces service expenditures” (814). Costs will vary depending on the service, institution, community, and agency. Although some parks have modest economic impact largely because they are undeveloped, it is important to maintain them, as some economic impact is better than none (Donnelly et al. 1998). Yet states like Arizona have recently closed most state parks with minimal economic significance (e.g., Newton 2010), demonstrating that maintaining parks that provide little economic gain is not a priority for decision-makers. Additionally, a number of parks and recreation entities have employed other strategies not traditional to the public sector, such as competitive bidding, commercial property endowment, and others (Crompton 2010). This is enterprising at its finest, wherein market strategies are borrowed and applied. But, Haque (2001) still cautions that a “transition toward a market-driven mode has created a serious challenge to publicness” (65), which warrants further investigation. Again, these tensions reflect the Type 2 shift where political authority is further decreased and market authority is further increased. Retrenchment and Reduction Type 3 or Type 4 shifts may be seen in municipal parks and recreation through retrenchment and reduction of services. Type 3 might better reflect a retrenchment of a service a service that has been privatized, and Type 4 might reflect general reduction or retrenchment since political authority is unaffected. The advantages of retrenchment in parks and recreation include the ability to direct resources to higher priorities, to enhance the success of new services and to strengthen the overall organization (Crompton 1984; 1988). There are factors that make some programs difficult to eliminate, such as political expediency user concerns, or legal matters (Crompton 1984; 1988). In the current climate, retrenchment is sometimes politically expedient, as user concerns may be outweighed by concerns over public expenditures and investment. Many have called for the greater involvement of citizens in the fiscal retrenchment process, but in fact, highly involved citizens sometimes actually favor the retrenchment of services (Jimenez 2013). “Participatory cities have a higher probability of adopting highly contentious strategies, including eliminating services and laying off workers compared with nonparticipatory cities” (Jimenez 2013, 923). When trying to address how to raise revenue for municipalities, citizens desired to avoid raising property taxes (Jimenez 2013). Although few have strongly taken up the mantle to speak to retrenchment in the parks and recreation literature, retrenchment of public services remains a concern for public administration (Fotaki 2011). Maintaining Publicness After Adaptation The adaptation mechanisms of municipal parks and recreation were presented as examples of previous thinking and actions for adaptation. The shifts observed and describe throughout the history of municipal parks and recreation highlight the need for the service to retain its publicness. The shift towards flexible networks and networking is demonstrated in parks and recreation, especially as the role of parks and recreation personnel shifts away from direct service provision to facilitating services (Freysinger and Kelly 2004; Godbey 2006). These shifts must not move away from service to the public. Active citizen involvement remains important to successful adaption (Bryson, Crosby, and Bloomberg 2014; Bryson, Crosby, and Stone 2015; Child et al. 2015; Hope and Dempsey 2000; Martin 2000). Although it is interesting that so many have commented on the future of public parks and recreation and the threats to its survival, it seems the old adage articulated by the late Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, that all politics are local, seems to have taken hold. Insights and Future Research on Other Adaptation Types As noted earlier, this study concerned a “Type 2” shift where high political authority shifts to lower political authority and low market authority shifts to high market authority. Private and nonprofit strategies (e.g., fees, philanthropy, sponsorships, etc.) are applied to a public service (i.e., parks and recreation) that has traditionally relied upon public support (e.g., tax revenue). Important similarities and differences can be found among the other adaptation types. A short synopsis of the other types and their adaptation mechanisms is provided next, but these types and their mechanisms need further investigation in future research. A “Type 1” shift where political authority remains high, but market authority shifts from low to high may demonstrate similar and different movements as Type 2. One example of this shift is the movement in higher education from nonprofit models to for-profit enterprises. Although the nonprofit models are reliant on philanthropy and tuition fees, they strive to be exclusive (e.g., admission caps) to be attractive in the market. This strategy requires limits on enrollment, which can be detrimental to institutions that fail to reach their enrollment goals whilst maintain high admission standards. For-profit higher education companies have fees like nonprofit entities; however, they often maintain lower admission requirements to attract as many enrollees focusing on ease of entry for applicants rather than exclusivity (Parker 2012). The “Types 3 and 4” shifts are very different if not opposite of the “Type 1 and 2” shifts in adaptation mechanisms. A “Type 3” shift, where political authority shifts from low to high with market authority shifting from high to low, reflects an opposite shift to Type 2. One example of this shift is the formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following the attacks on September 11, 2001. Opposite of parks and recreation, a privatized industry became nationalized and increasingly regulated. A “Type 4” shift maintains high political authority, but market authority moves from high to low. This shift is demonstrated by the increased government control over the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association. With this shift, the mechanisms put in place reflect the nationalization of an already highly regulated private industry. These industrial shifts along with their adaptation mechanisms require further investigation. Conclusion: Withering Public Services and/or Adaptive Publicness For decades, scholars have recognized the inherent complexities surrounding industrial change and have devoted considerable attention to understanding the change of service industries over time. Theory development in this domain has offered considerable insight into the role of important factors including consumer demand, labor, and capital in effecting change in market organizations over time. For public organizations, it has identified such factors as resources, political support, citizen participation and environmental change as critical drivers of public organization change. One shortcoming with this work is that it tends to focus on market factors as change agents for market organizations and political factors as change agents for public organizations. Although there is some conceptual cross-fertilization between the two paradigms, the bulk of thinking in each domain tends to be more narrowly focused than is necessary. Through the theory of adaptive publicness presented here, two primary contributions to this literature are offered. First, the central assertion of publicness theory is presented: that all organizations operate under some interaction of political and market authority. Second, the various forms of industrial change that can be characterized are recognized through this interactive of multiple dimensions of authority. Thus, rather than moving on a single axis between public and private status, industrial change can occur across multiple dimensions. The pressure to cut costs but maintain high quality among public services highlights intertwined nature of the two contributions noted above. The moving target that is the equilibrium of public services in costs, quality, and publicness continues to shift. Although decisions about making public the provision of such services is crucial, social innovation will be essential. Peter Drucker (2006 [1985]) wrote, “Indeed, there may be greater scope in the United States—and in developed societies generally—for social innovation in education, health care, government, and politics than there is in business and the economy” (p. 17). Innovation must be at the core of the missions and policies regarding public services. Future research must continue to explore the social innovations occurring in public services that draw from strategies employed across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Investigations of these social innovation strategies must source global perspectives on social innovations in public services that both cut costs and maintain high quality or improve quality of service as well. The mechanisms and shifts noted do raise questions regarding motivation. First, does necessity for survival force the adaptation mechanisms upon the public agency or do the public agencies utilize these mechanisms as part of a larger adaption plan to ensure resilience against future political or market-based threats? This raises the aforementioned notion of short-term versus long-term planning decisions; these decisions result as responses to either or both political or market pressures. Many of the mechanisms may be apparent short-term responses, such as a sudden rise in rental or user fees, a philanthropy event to prevent the closing of a park, or the selling of property or facilities to shore up public budgets. But as part of a larger plan, these mechanisms likely can be used as tools for fostering resilience against political or market threats to public systems like parks and recreation. Much more research is needed in this area regarding these short versus long-term questions and strategies and resilience as an outcome of adaptation. Although parks and recreation services have traditionally been viewed as primarily public services, important changes are taking place, which cannot be fully understood through a purely political lens. The growth of private companies operating in this space, complex networks of private and public actors, and the proliferation of nonprofit and philanthropic engagements requires broader conceptual perspectives. There are many public and private industries undergoing changes that are better understood through these broader conceptual perspectives. Furthermore, private enterprises have begun to force changes in public institutions by attacking those institutions from within. For example, the case of Xanterra2 and its impact on the National Park Service (NPS) warrants mentioning. Xanterra, a private corporation, is the largest concessionaire of the United States National Park Service (Carlsen and Edwards 2008). Concerns have arisen regarding Xanterra’s hold over the National Park Service sites. Recently, they have filed lawsuits against the NPS citing mismanagement regarding bidding and contracts at the Grand Canyon. Their aggressive and protective tactics have proved challenging to NPS, especially economically and managerially (see Blevins 2014). For example, a recent article by O’Connor (2017) raised concerns regarding potential increases in visitor costs because of privatization models like Xanterra and NPS. Future research on adaptive publicness and potential models for the phenomenon will benefit by accounting for these special private-public interactions. Furthermore, the Xanterra example highlights the uniqueness of parks and recreation as a prime example to explore and assess adaptive publicness theory. Future research within the parks and recreation field can utilize the adaptive publicness approach to better understand the success and failures of the decisions made in that field. Adaptive publicness is not a simple dichotomous choice; it is likely more of a spectrum than already presented. Future research should explore how the decision to adapt too far in one direction or another might also be problematic. Additionally, future research might put together a comparison of the adaptations and salience of adaptation seen across the public service domains. For example, sanitation services are more likely to be fully privatized in a city compared to fire or police services. Even further, the differing levels of adaptive publicness at the various governmental levels (i.e., local, state, and federal) must be explored. Through innovation and adaptation, public services can maintain their publicness and service quality, but two questions remain, “how can costs be cut over time, and how can costs kept low in the long-term?” Better answers to these questions in the context of adaptive publicness will shine light on the best practices for public services and policies regarding public services so all may benefit. References Anderson , Stuart . 2015 . Publicness, goal ambiguity and patient safety: exploring organizational factors in hospital practice . 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Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 42:689–715. Wittmer , Dennis . 1991 . Serving the people or serving for pay: Reward preferences among government, hybrid sector, and business managers . Public Productivity & Management Review 14: 369 – 83 . Footnotes 1 The authors wish to thank one of the anonymous reviewers for highlighting the importance of R. Douglas Arnold’s (1990) work regarding finding logic in congressional action through traceability and political symbols. Although it is outside of the purview of this article, it is worth further investigation in this avenue of research. 2 The authors wish to thank one of the anonymous reviewers for providing the Xanterra example for this article. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Public Management Research Association. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Perspectives on Public Management and Governance Oxford University Press

Whither Recreation and Parks? Understanding Change in Public Institutions Through a Theory of Adaptive Publicness

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Abstract

Abstract Although publicness theory has been able to account for much of the elusive and sometimes-contested nature of the term public, many important questions remain under examined. Not least among these concern how publicness changes over time. This article proposes a theory of adaptive publicness to explain change in political and economic influence over an institution or set of institutions over time. Using examples from municipal parks and recreation, this article provides a typology of publicness adaptations and explores the political and market factors that bring them about. Although parks and recreation services have traditionally been viewed as primarily public services, important changes have taken place, which cannot be fully understood through a purely political lens. The growth of private companies operating in this space, complex networks of private and public actors, and the proliferation of nonprofit and philanthropic engagements requires conceptual perspectives that reach beyond traditional public-private sector logics. The origins and nature of public institutions has been an enduring theme in the study of social enterprises. Pre-modern perspectives contributed to theories of collective action (Ober 2009) and were complemented, centuries later, by Adam Smith’s writings on the division of labor and, later still, by Weber’s theories of bureaucratic organization (Weber 1920). Upon these early perspectives were built economic and behavioral theories of the firm (Cyert and March 2006) and theories on the political economy of organizations (Wamsley and Zald 1973). These theories all contend that there is a fundamental need in social systems not just for government, but public institutions more broadly. They are informed by the empirical reality that societies in nearly every form have evolved to include robust domains of public industry to provide for, protect, and promote the general welfare and interests of society. Accordingly, the roots of public organization and public administrative theories run as deep as any other social theories. Despite the proliferation of public administrative and public organization theories, the fundamental nature of public has proven to be an elusive, if not contested, topic. In modern societies there are very few examples of industries that are purely public—at least in the way public is traditionally characterized. As James Q. Wilson famously observed of “armies, schools and prisons” (Wilson 1989), there are many domains of public industry that include strong and important private sector participants. It is no wonder that recent decades have seen a proliferation of theories that take into account a more nuanced view of what it means to be public. Examples include perspectives on public-private hybrid organizations (Emmert and Crow 1988; Frumkin and Galaskiewicz 2004; Koppell 2010), public-private partnerships (Girth et al. 2012; Hefetz and Warner 2012; Warner and Hefetz 2008), and privatization of public organizations and the emergence of so-called quangos (Greve et al. 1999). The theory of dimensional publicness, the focus of this article, also contends with the nature of the term “public.” Dimensional publicness theory asserts that organizations can be characterized according to the particular mixture of political and economic authority under which they operate (Bozeman 1987; Bozeman, Reed, and Scott 1992; Haque 2001; Pesch 2008; Pierre 2011). The central assertion of dimensional publicness theory is that the characterization of organizations according to their legal status as “public” or “private” fails to account for variances in the intensity that the external influences of political authority and economic authority place upon virtually all organizations. Accordingly, through publicness theory, public and private are dimensions as opposed to dichotomous conditions. Although publicness theory has been able to account for much of the elusive and sometimes-contested nature of the term public, many important questions remain under examined. Not least among these concern how publicness changes over time. Issues of organizational, institutional and industrial change are of central importance to diverse domains of social inquiry. These include perspectives on organizational adaptation, which contend, in part, that: (a) organizations, institutions and industries exist in and are influenced by complex environmental conditions that sometimes change (Hrebiniak and Joyce 1985), and (b) organizations, institutions and industries faced with environmental change sometimes undergo structural or operational adjustments in coping with new conditions while maintaining their core purpose (Dutton and Dukerich 1991; Hrebiniak and Joyce 1985; Porter 1980). Given the joint emphasis that both dimensional publicness and organizational adaptation theories place on external influences, this article borrows from perspectives on adaptation in an effort to explain changes in publicness over time. More specifically, this article seeks to establish a conceptual basis for a theory of adaptive publicness to explain the structural and operational changes relative to political and market influences that an organization, institution or industry undergoes over time. Operationalized as such, the perspective on adaptive publicness presented here pertains to changes in the attributes of industries as they are situated in political and economic environments. This ambition is not to be confused with assessing the extent to which certain states of dimensional publicness are better suited for adaptation to environmental stimuli, which is critically important but beyond the scope of this article. This article proceeds with a summary of the existing research on dimensional publicness before discussing the central tenets of a proposed theory of adaptive publicness, which is considered here a contribution to dimensional publicness theory rather than a competing perspective. A challenge for advancing publicness theories is that they can be applied to assorted units of analysis including organizations (Anderson 2015), public policies (Chun and Rainey 2005), and institutions (Pandey 2010). For purposes of clarity, this article places a special emphasis on the structural and operational attributes of institutions, industries, and systems of organizations. Within this context, a typology of four publicness adaptations is provided, including specific examples of each. This article concludes with a discussion of the mechanisms that facilitate adaptations in institutional publicness. When discussing these mechanisms, an emphasis is placed on recognizing how assorted factors familiar to public organization and management theorists can operate as adaptive mechanisms. Literature documenting the possibility of “withering” municipal parks and recreation is used to provide greater explication on one of the typologies: the transformation of an industry from a state of high levels of political influence and low levels of market influence to low levels of political influence and high levels of market influence. In recent decades, municipal parks and recreation services have transformed from an industry comprised of purpose driven government-owned entities to an industry comprised of assorted networks of government, nonprofit, and business entities. Examples are highlighted regarding how one historically public enterprise—municipal parks and recreation—has shifted from a state of low-market influence and high political influence to high market influence and low political influence. This constitutes one of many different types of publicness adaptations. DIMENSIONAL PUBLICNESS Publicness theory has roots in the vast array of theoretical and empirical research on public-private sector differences, which incorporates a number of important and diverse perspectives, including those from political economy (Wamsley and Zald 1973), political science (Appleby 1943; Lindblom 1977), management (Flynn and Tannenbaum, 1993) and public administration (Wittmer 1991). Early research on sector differences advanced according to a so-called “core” differences logic (Bozeman and Bretschneider 1994), which implied that sector differences, while important, are easily explained through reflection on the public or private ownership or legal status of the organization. Later research integrated much needed internal managerial considerations with external environmental factors (Buelens and Van den Broek 2007; Wittmer 1991) to help explain the antecedents of sector differences and their variety of manifestations. Bozeman’s dimensional publicness model (Bozeman 1987) provided further insight by systematizing the idea that all organizations exist in states of varying combinations of influence from both market and political authority. Publicness according to Bozeman’s conceptualization is the “degree to which the organization is affected by political authority” (Bozeman 1987, xi). Privateness, then, is “the degree to which an organization exerts or is constrained by economic authority” (Pesch 2008, 81). All organizations experience some level of publicness and some level of privateness. Among the most recent major developments in publicness theory has been the establishment of integrative publicness, a framework that brings together empirical publicness and normative publicness in a manner that facilitates analysis of organizations (as well as public policies and programs) in ways that account for empirical environmental, managerial, and strategic factors as system inputs and normative public values as system outcomes (Bozeman and Moulton 2011). Bozeman and Moulton (2011) observe that, “the idea that organizations of all types are strongly influenced by both economic and political forces is not a new one” (364). For decades, scholars from economics and political science have examined the various relationships organizations have with markets and political systems. Such perspectives inform theoretical work on important concepts such as organizational legitimacy (Dahl and Lindblom 1953), organizational power (Wamsley and Zald 1973), and institutional risk (Arrow and Lind 1970; Smith 1981). In justifying research in this area, Wittmer (1991) noted that recognizing differences relative to publicness has “important implications for the design of alternative organizations and management strategies” (369), which influence productivity and value. The suggestion that different forms of publicness may have implications for productivity and value raises important normative questions about changes in the mixture of political and market authority under which organizations, institutions and industries operate. The state of theoretical and empirical research on topics of publicness has advanced in recent decades. Public administration researchers have played a principal role in fostering much of this progress. Although this domain of scholarly inquiry has grown to be as thoughtful and positivistic as any other in the social sciences, issues of publicness sometimes also become the providence of practical or political significance. For example, evolving publicness environments as represented by corporatization, competition, or changes in public support for an institution have been shown to effect the operations and effectiveness of substance abuse treatment centers (Miller and Moulton 2014) and hospitals (Lindlbauer, Winter, and Schreyogg 2016). In the case of public parks and recreation presented here, many states in recent years have reduced operations in the face of declining revenue. This reduction in resource publicness has been met with considerable public criticism. For example, funding and operation cuts to state parks in Arizona prompted the editorial board of that state’s major newspaper to declare: “Arizona’s state parks need advocates to survive…free state parks from lawmakers” (Editorial Board 2014). As will be highlighted later, trends on larger levels like states are often reflected on municipal levels as well, likely due to municipal dependency on higher level governments and their agencies (e.g., Jordan 2003). Publicness theory tends to focus on the organization as the entity of analysis; however, key attributes of publicness can be applied to systems of organizations and industries. For example, in education in the United States, research universities comprise a class of institutions that rely heavily on federal research agencies to support research operations. Accordingly, individual research universities may operate under varying levels of resource publicness determined by the volume of federal research support any individual university receives whereas research universities also comprise a class of institutions that collectively operate under the auspices of resource-based publicness that stems from federal science funding. This clarification is important as it helps situate the proposed theory of adaptive publicness as one that may pertain to individual organizations, systems of organizations or entire industries. The focus here is primarily on systems of organizations and industries. A PRELIMINARY MODEL OF ADAPTIVE PUBLICNESS Adaptive publicness is an extension of dimensional publicness theory. Scholars of organizational studies (Kaufman 1973) and public policy (Baumgartner, Jones, and Mortensen 2014) sometimes adopt evolutionary biology metaphors as tools to explain changes in systems over time. In this case, the concept of evolutionary adaptation is utilized to characterize ways in which organizations and institutions may change as a result of environmental pressures, specifically focusing on their traits relative to the mix of political and market authority under which they operate. External influence is therefore a critical concept for both publicness theory and concepts of organizational adaptation. The adaptive publicness conceptual model therefore begins with consideration of external influence. In the case of municipal parks, external influences of the political sort are easy to account for since they play a historically familiar and well-documented part of civic life. To begin, municipal parks are generally located in public spaces (Crompton 2017) and sometimes even implemented, maintained or enhanced in efforts to improve such space. Municipal parks have a long history of public support through appropriation of tax revenues (Crompton 1999a) and are often staffed by public employees. In the United States, improvements in municipal parks sometimes come about through political processes including ballot initiatives (Crompton 2017) and investments in parks are justified through the logic of assorted public benefits (Cheng et al. 2003). Finally, the ways in which municipal parks and recreation resources are used is often specified though formal legal processes and sometimes regulated by or subject to oversight from public agencies (e.g., water quality regulations at city pools). External influences of the market sort are, arguably, less easily identified, in part because they are relatively new and less familiar. In some instances, recreation services move towards more market sensitive schemes through the provision of fees (Cheng et al. 2003). In such instances, fees are determined in part through assessment of consumer willingness to pay, which in turn, subjects parks and recreation agencies to market demand forces. In other instances, parks and recreation departments have turned to philanthropy to source operating and capital improvement revenues (Borrie et al. 2006) and in some instances corporate sponsorship has also become a strategy. A growing trend in this space has been the privatization of parks and recreation. In some instances, neighborhood associations and designers of centrally planned communities have replaced municipal facilities with privately managed (i.e., association-managed) facilities including parks and pools (Crompton 1999a). But the market nature of many of these adaptations is not altogether clear since political leaders often oversee, approve, or regulate the undertakings (Arnold, 1990).1 The theory of adaptive publicness recognizes that assorted forms of political and market influences exist in the broader parks and recreation environment and that from time to time the balance of political and market influence changes. An important contention through adaptive publicness theory is that the core function of parks and recreation services does not change through the process of adaptation. So, in the case of parks and recreation, the emergence of large-scale private service providers necessarily represents a new state of publicness but does not necessarily require a change in the nature of the service being provided. This distinction allows us to recognize that there are strategies of private recreation service providers—such as capital-intensive theme parks that charge admittance fees—that have emerged in greater prominence among public recreation providers. For example, public golf courses and pools have charged admission fees since the 1960s to recoup their operation costs and pad municipal parks and recreation budgets due to high demand for these services. In these instances more prevalent today, we contend that the emergence of these private sector providers constitutes more than a mere publicness adaptation, a change that may be more accurately characterized as an industrial transformation. Theme parks constitute another industry that has demonstrated itself as a growth industry benefiting from high demand (Milman 2001; 2010). The case of theme parks also underscores the idea that new institutional forms may come with new intentions. For example, at least part of the original notion of modern public parks rested upon a popular consensus that it is important to offer certain space and recreational services to citizens of limited means (Hansan 2013) whereas the emergence of expensive fee-based theme parks stem, at least in part, from opportunities to generate profit. Additionally, parks and recreation as a service to those of limited means may have once been seen as an asset, which aimed to make communities more attractive to newcomers and to outsiders who might come live in their communities (City of Phoenix, n.d.). There are at least two ways in which a theory of adaptive publicness integrates existing ideas from other social scientific theories, especially in the domain of public administration and public policy. First, the notion of publicness “adaptation strategies” is presented to help describe the specific approaches and tools organizations and institutions may use or subject themselves to as they change from one state of publicness to another. Many of these adaptation strategies are well documented in other literatures, but they are not necessarily identified as concepts related to publicness. Thus, the theory of adaptive publicness presented here serves a linking function by integrating existing organization, management, and policy theories. Second, there are several different types of publicness adaptations, varying based on beginning and end states of publicness. Accordingly, different types of publicness adaptations may be explained through existing theories of industrial change including corporatization, privatization, and bureaucratization. Figure 1 provides an overview of several types of publicness adaptations and table 1 provides examples. This study focuses on a “Type 2” publicness adaptation, wherein a historically public industry is slowly privatized over time; however, privatization is discussed as a process occurring in both nonprofit and for-profit contexts. The Type 2 shift of decreasing political authority and increasing market authority is highlighted next in the case the municipal parks and recreation. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Typologies of Publicness Adaptations Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Typologies of Publicness Adaptations Table 1. Typology of Publicness Adaptations Adaptation Type Beginning State End State Description Example Type 1 High political authority, Low market authority High political authority, High market authority Growth of a historically public industry to include private sector actors Growth of for-profit education companies Type 2 High political authority, Low market authority Low political authority, High market authority Privatization of a historically public industry Decline of local parks and recreation with growth of private alternatives Type 3 Low political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of minimally regulated private industries Formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following 9/11 Type 4 High political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of highly regulated private industry Government assumed control over Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association Adaptation Type Beginning State End State Description Example Type 1 High political authority, Low market authority High political authority, High market authority Growth of a historically public industry to include private sector actors Growth of for-profit education companies Type 2 High political authority, Low market authority Low political authority, High market authority Privatization of a historically public industry Decline of local parks and recreation with growth of private alternatives Type 3 Low political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of minimally regulated private industries Formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following 9/11 Type 4 High political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of highly regulated private industry Government assumed control over Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association View Large Table 1. Typology of Publicness Adaptations Adaptation Type Beginning State End State Description Example Type 1 High political authority, Low market authority High political authority, High market authority Growth of a historically public industry to include private sector actors Growth of for-profit education companies Type 2 High political authority, Low market authority Low political authority, High market authority Privatization of a historically public industry Decline of local parks and recreation with growth of private alternatives Type 3 Low political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of minimally regulated private industries Formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following 9/11 Type 4 High political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of highly regulated private industry Government assumed control over Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association Adaptation Type Beginning State End State Description Example Type 1 High political authority, Low market authority High political authority, High market authority Growth of a historically public industry to include private sector actors Growth of for-profit education companies Type 2 High political authority, Low market authority Low political authority, High market authority Privatization of a historically public industry Decline of local parks and recreation with growth of private alternatives Type 3 Low political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of minimally regulated private industries Formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following 9/11 Type 4 High political authority, High market authority High political authority, Low market authority Nationalization of highly regulated private industry Government assumed control over Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association View Large THE CASE OF MUNICIPAL PARKS AND RECREATION In the United States, municipal parks and recreation works as a strong case for understanding adaptive publicness because it, like many public service agencies, has seen substantial changes in public financial and political support in just over half a century (Connolly and Smale 2001; Hope and Dempsey 2000). Political and financial support for parks and recreation comes from assorted federal, state, and local sources, and the history of resource uncertainty and its effects upon the industry provides a vivid case study for adaptation. Analysis of the history of support for parks and recreation as a public service industry demonstrates significant variation in recent decades (for earlier see Cranz 1982). Given the heterogeneity of municipalities in the United States, what follows is an account of mostly federal changes in support for parks and recreation as a public service industry. A summary and timeline of those changes are outlined in table 2; more parks and recreation specific examples are available in the table than in the manuscript. As shown and discussed, the changes on the federal level are generally mirrored by state and local changes, but this mirroring is not pre-ordained, especially at the local level. The changes presented serve to make the case that parks and recreation operates and has operated in a context of increasing volatility and uncertainty. Table 2. Historical Events in Municipal Parks and Recreation in the Mid-20th to 21st Century Year(s) Event Shifts Felt by Parks and Recreation Environment 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act Local parks and recreation services receive and utilize resources to expand infrastructure without long-term plans to necessitate the maintenance of such structures. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1965 Formation of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) A unified body for the promotion of local parks and recreation services is born. Increased Political Resources 1974 Community Development Block Grant Program Local parks and recreation services receive a relatively small amount of funds for improvements in public works; however most resources are directed towards housing projects. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1977 Absorption of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation into the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) A dedicated unit of the government that served local parks and recreation was consolidated into a larger more detached from local affairs agency. Decreased Political Resources 1978 Passage of Proposition 13 in California The amendment to the Constitution of California to limit property taxation serves as an epitome to the emerging tax limitation movement. Decreased Political Resources 1981 Absolution of the HCRS and transfer of duties to the National Parks Service An already less locally focused agency becomes even more less localized in focus. Decreased Political Resources Early 1980s The Early 1980s Recession Municipal expenditures are curtailed paralleling the tax limitation movement. Despite trends towards cuts, expansion occurs across the United States in local parks and recreation services. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Early 1990s The Early 1990s Global Recession The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources 1995 Inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program A relatively small amount of resources were provided to local municipalities for redevelopment of perceived and actual contaminated sites that lack use or are abandoned. Increased Financial and Political Resources Late 1990s Perceived Golden Years of Parks and Recreation Local parks and recreation does not receive decreased cuts in appropriations contrary to previous years. No Real Change in Political or Financial Support 2002 Defunding of Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) A locally focused federal program for urban cities and counties is lost as a resource. Previously matching grants and technical assistance are no longer made available. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 2000s to Early 2010s The Great Recession of the Late 2000s and Early 2010s Local parks and recreation receive further cuts in services whilst a great deal of infrastructure remains in need of care across communities. Decreased Financial and Political Resources The National Park Service was not keeping pace with inflation as measured between 2005 and 2014, despite increases in fees and donations. Nominally, total funding during those years increased 15% from $2.7 to $3.1 billion; however, this was really a 3% decline after adjusting for inflation. On the state-level, the US Census of 2016 showed a decline in expenditures between 2012 and 2014. Year(s) Event Shifts Felt by Parks and Recreation Environment 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act Local parks and recreation services receive and utilize resources to expand infrastructure without long-term plans to necessitate the maintenance of such structures. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1965 Formation of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) A unified body for the promotion of local parks and recreation services is born. Increased Political Resources 1974 Community Development Block Grant Program Local parks and recreation services receive a relatively small amount of funds for improvements in public works; however most resources are directed towards housing projects. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1977 Absorption of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation into the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) A dedicated unit of the government that served local parks and recreation was consolidated into a larger more detached from local affairs agency. Decreased Political Resources 1978 Passage of Proposition 13 in California The amendment to the Constitution of California to limit property taxation serves as an epitome to the emerging tax limitation movement. Decreased Political Resources 1981 Absolution of the HCRS and transfer of duties to the National Parks Service An already less locally focused agency becomes even more less localized in focus. Decreased Political Resources Early 1980s The Early 1980s Recession Municipal expenditures are curtailed paralleling the tax limitation movement. Despite trends towards cuts, expansion occurs across the United States in local parks and recreation services. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Early 1990s The Early 1990s Global Recession The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources 1995 Inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program A relatively small amount of resources were provided to local municipalities for redevelopment of perceived and actual contaminated sites that lack use or are abandoned. Increased Financial and Political Resources Late 1990s Perceived Golden Years of Parks and Recreation Local parks and recreation does not receive decreased cuts in appropriations contrary to previous years. No Real Change in Political or Financial Support 2002 Defunding of Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) A locally focused federal program for urban cities and counties is lost as a resource. Previously matching grants and technical assistance are no longer made available. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 2000s to Early 2010s The Great Recession of the Late 2000s and Early 2010s Local parks and recreation receive further cuts in services whilst a great deal of infrastructure remains in need of care across communities. Decreased Financial and Political Resources The National Park Service was not keeping pace with inflation as measured between 2005 and 2014, despite increases in fees and donations. Nominally, total funding during those years increased 15% from $2.7 to $3.1 billion; however, this was really a 3% decline after adjusting for inflation. On the state-level, the US Census of 2016 showed a decline in expenditures between 2012 and 2014. View Large Table 2. Historical Events in Municipal Parks and Recreation in the Mid-20th to 21st Century Year(s) Event Shifts Felt by Parks and Recreation Environment 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act Local parks and recreation services receive and utilize resources to expand infrastructure without long-term plans to necessitate the maintenance of such structures. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1965 Formation of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) A unified body for the promotion of local parks and recreation services is born. Increased Political Resources 1974 Community Development Block Grant Program Local parks and recreation services receive a relatively small amount of funds for improvements in public works; however most resources are directed towards housing projects. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1977 Absorption of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation into the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) A dedicated unit of the government that served local parks and recreation was consolidated into a larger more detached from local affairs agency. Decreased Political Resources 1978 Passage of Proposition 13 in California The amendment to the Constitution of California to limit property taxation serves as an epitome to the emerging tax limitation movement. Decreased Political Resources 1981 Absolution of the HCRS and transfer of duties to the National Parks Service An already less locally focused agency becomes even more less localized in focus. Decreased Political Resources Early 1980s The Early 1980s Recession Municipal expenditures are curtailed paralleling the tax limitation movement. Despite trends towards cuts, expansion occurs across the United States in local parks and recreation services. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Early 1990s The Early 1990s Global Recession The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources 1995 Inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program A relatively small amount of resources were provided to local municipalities for redevelopment of perceived and actual contaminated sites that lack use or are abandoned. Increased Financial and Political Resources Late 1990s Perceived Golden Years of Parks and Recreation Local parks and recreation does not receive decreased cuts in appropriations contrary to previous years. No Real Change in Political or Financial Support 2002 Defunding of Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) A locally focused federal program for urban cities and counties is lost as a resource. Previously matching grants and technical assistance are no longer made available. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 2000s to Early 2010s The Great Recession of the Late 2000s and Early 2010s Local parks and recreation receive further cuts in services whilst a great deal of infrastructure remains in need of care across communities. Decreased Financial and Political Resources The National Park Service was not keeping pace with inflation as measured between 2005 and 2014, despite increases in fees and donations. Nominally, total funding during those years increased 15% from $2.7 to $3.1 billion; however, this was really a 3% decline after adjusting for inflation. On the state-level, the US Census of 2016 showed a decline in expenditures between 2012 and 2014. Year(s) Event Shifts Felt by Parks and Recreation Environment 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act Local parks and recreation services receive and utilize resources to expand infrastructure without long-term plans to necessitate the maintenance of such structures. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1965 Formation of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) A unified body for the promotion of local parks and recreation services is born. Increased Political Resources 1974 Community Development Block Grant Program Local parks and recreation services receive a relatively small amount of funds for improvements in public works; however most resources are directed towards housing projects. Increased Financial and Political Resources 1977 Absorption of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation into the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) A dedicated unit of the government that served local parks and recreation was consolidated into a larger more detached from local affairs agency. Decreased Political Resources 1978 Passage of Proposition 13 in California The amendment to the Constitution of California to limit property taxation serves as an epitome to the emerging tax limitation movement. Decreased Political Resources 1981 Absolution of the HCRS and transfer of duties to the National Parks Service An already less locally focused agency becomes even more less localized in focus. Decreased Political Resources Early 1980s The Early 1980s Recession Municipal expenditures are curtailed paralleling the tax limitation movement. Despite trends towards cuts, expansion occurs across the United States in local parks and recreation services. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Early 1990s The Early 1990s Global Recession The tax limitation movement continues. Decreased Financial and Political Resources 1995 Inception of the EPA’s Brownfields Program A relatively small amount of resources were provided to local municipalities for redevelopment of perceived and actual contaminated sites that lack use or are abandoned. Increased Financial and Political Resources Late 1990s Perceived Golden Years of Parks and Recreation Local parks and recreation does not receive decreased cuts in appropriations contrary to previous years. No Real Change in Political or Financial Support 2002 Defunding of Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) A locally focused federal program for urban cities and counties is lost as a resource. Previously matching grants and technical assistance are no longer made available. Decreased Financial and Political Resources Late 2000s to Early 2010s The Great Recession of the Late 2000s and Early 2010s Local parks and recreation receive further cuts in services whilst a great deal of infrastructure remains in need of care across communities. Decreased Financial and Political Resources The National Park Service was not keeping pace with inflation as measured between 2005 and 2014, despite increases in fees and donations. Nominally, total funding during those years increased 15% from $2.7 to $3.1 billion; however, this was really a 3% decline after adjusting for inflation. On the state-level, the US Census of 2016 showed a decline in expenditures between 2012 and 2014. View Large The 1960s to 1980s: Birth, Emergence, and Ambivalence 1965 is an important demarcation point in the history of municipal parks and recreation in the United States. The National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) was created to advance parks and recreation, and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 stimulated an expansion of infrastructure for local parks and recreation services. Although the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act became the bedrock policy for modern municipal parks and recreation in the United States, it failed to put into place effective plans to maintain the structures and facilities built (Vincent 2006), and the duty of maintaining the infrastructures built following the 1965 act fell to local governments (Bradford, Malt, and Oats 1969). The economic slowdown of the late 1970s and recession of the early 1980s brought about decreases in political resources, which would be followed by decreases in public financial resources (Barbour 2007). This led to substantial curtailment of expenditures for municipal parks and recreation (Crompton and Kaczynski 2003) and consolidation of political bodies aimed to advance parks and recreation (Diamond 1983). Congruently, it also fostered strong opposition regarding the expansion of parks and recreation in the United States (Tinianow 1982). The late 1980s and early 1990s were ambivalent times for municipal parks and recreation because of political polarization around spending resulting from the infamous “savings and loan.” Haley (1990) noted that recreation resources during the 1980s were perceived to have expanded, despite cuts, since 1965. Even with the standing presence of the tax limitation movement, increases in expenditures were seen in the late 1980s and the 1990s, likely due to the resilience of the national economy (Crompton and Kaczynski 2003). Although minor expansion may have occurred, the expansion was not nearly as salient or prominent as seen in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The 1990s: “The Golden Years” The mid- to late 1990s were acclaimed as “the golden years” (Crompton and Kaczynski 2003, 142–143) of modern municipal parks and recreation. The era saw funding for brownfield redevelopment (Solitare and Greenberg 2002) and an unprecedented level of expenditures regarding municipal parks and recreation (Greenberg and Hollander 2006; Solitare and Greenberg 2002). Despite the “golden years” claim, uncertainty and volatility in both political and financial support of parks and recreations as a public service industry became overtly apparent in the 1990s and carried into the 2000s. Measured over a longer period of time and compared to other public services, the growth during the 1990s now seems less profound. From 1989 to 2003, Kaczynski and Crompton (2006) noted that parks and recreation’s share of total municipal government expenses had remained stable at around 2.4%. They found that parks and recreation consistently ranked eighth out of ten types of government services, only superseding corrections and libraries in proportion of total government expenditures. They concluded that such stability in expenditures was likely due to “incremental budgeting procedures and the inflexibility of civil service regulations” (84). A follow up study of similar nature has yet to be conducted. The 2000s to Early 2010s: Reduction Turning away from the mid-century belief that higher taxes and higher levels of government spending could serve a social function and contribute to economic growth (Musgrave 1959; Samuelson 1954), a consistent call across municipalities for reduction in parks and recreation funding was issued during the 2000s. Connolly and Smale (2001) noted the future provision of US parks and recreation services was highly subject to tax reduction legislation. Municipal parks and recreation was left to find ways to diversify in order to meet community needs as governments addressed their increasing debt (Barnes and Brayley 2006; Godbey 2006). The so-called “double-dip” in 2010 of the Great Recession led to a decrease in expenditures, staffing, and revenue, especially for agencies in the middle and upper quartiles of these measures (NRPA 2015). Despite economic stress during that time, Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land (Rogers 2011), writes of the political will and actions on behalf of some mayors and urban cities: “…mayors once again understand that they can’t have a great city without a great park system… Cities are investing as never before in central and neighborhood parks, gardens, greenways, trails, playgrounds, and urban natural areas. And yet reliable data to guide public and private investment and shape the future of our nation’s city park systems is very hard to come by” (p. 1). Federal and state level funding for parks and recreation decreased but not necessarily drastically. This decline on the federal level was rooted (after adjusting for inflation) in an 8% decline in annual appropriations and a 39% increase in fees, donations, and other funding sources (U.S. Government Accountability Office 2016). A positive sign of growth in the US Census (2016) findings in the 2.7% growth in municipal parks and recreation employment between 2013 and 2014 of which 36.1% of those added jobs full-time. Thus, regarding full-blown withering, the data are mixed. The Status of Parks and Recreation Revenues for parks and recreation have grown through fees for food and services, whereas expenses have flattened. Still, overall agency budgets have not yet returned to 2010 levels (NRPA 2015). The NRPA (2015) concluded that, “jurisdictional budgets show cause for optimism about continued economic recovering. Given that the recovery is sluggish, however, agencies can expect to continue to face fierce competition for public dollars” (2). Overall, there still remains a growing deficiency regarding fully maintaining and utilizing even the current infrastructure of municipal parks and recreation across the United States (NRPA 2015). Additional concerns have emerged regarding unfunded pension liabilities for retirees from park and recreation services (Dolesh and Roth, 2017); this is a concern for other public services. The demand for parks and recreation has decreased. Recent estimates suggest municipal park attendance is flat or in decline, and recreation services offered to children, older adults, and persons with disabilities have stagnated over the past 4 years. These findings deserve further investigations. Questions remain, such as whether increasing fees are making services less available and/or driving people to look at private sector competitors now that there are market prices for the services. Still, the decreasing demand for educational programs offered by municipal parks and recreation services appears to have stabilized (Culverhouse 2015; NRPA 2015). The (albeit more expensive) substitutes for municipal parks and recreation, such as amusement/theme parks, water parks, and museums, all have shown global upswings in attendance (Au et al. 2015). Today, municipal parks and recreation has a perceived value problem (Panza and Cipriano 2004), which requires adaptation to continue to serve its public mission, as its services are not seen in the same regard as fire, police, and sanitation services. It may be possible that this lack of perceived value and funding has led parks and recreation services to pioneer new funding methods that are more likely aimed at addressing the burden of maintaining current facilities rather than programs (NRPA 2015). Or more simply, municipal parks and recreation may not be (or be seen) as essential as the others, and thus loses out in public funding commitments. Therefore, parks and recreation as an industry serves as a well-fitting case for understanding adaptive publicness because of the external changes that have impacted the public service, the economic and social value municipal parks and recreation brings to communities, and the impetus that municipal parks and recreation faces to adapt while upholding its core and historic public mission. PUBLICNESS ADAPTATION MECHANISMS The case of municipal parks and recreation illustrates changes and adaptations needed related to both market and political authority. In this section, the adaptation mechanisms seen in a Type II shift (see again figure 1) are presented using municipal parks and recreation as an example case for understanding publicness. The adaptation mechanisms relate closely to trends that might be seen in other municipal or public services. A summation is available in table 3, which depicts lines of thinking around how parks and recreation can transform in response to the decline in public funds and support. Such trends are discussed regarding the Type 2 shift where political authority decreases and market authority increases. Table 3. Adaptation Mechanisms Aim Mechanism Description of Strategies Examples From Municipal Recreation and Parks Increase revenue Fees and charges In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers charge for particular services and amenities. Many cities like Seattle utilize rentals fees for daily use of facilities (e.g., pools or courts) and equipment (e.g., balls or rackets) or for holding special events. Philanthropy sponsorship In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out donations from the public, from nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Sponsorship, which includes naming rights is currently gaining traction in public support and public management discussions. A Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations from citizens and nonprofit charities and foundations. Crowd sourcing has become another strategy used to fund parks (at least the development of new ones). On a small scale, parks have benches sponsored and engraved with names. On a larger scale, prominent parks and recreation departments like Oakland, California and Fairfax County, Virginia have introduced plans for naming rights to their parks. Decrease expenses Partnerships contracting privatization In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out nonprofit and for-profit service providers to fulfil functions they would have otherwise conducted themselves. Many local parks and recreation providers like Austin, Texas contract out with instructors to teach courses. A number of other cities like Adrian, Michigan have partnered with YMCAs (or other organizations) to provide programs to local citizens. On a larger scale, private parks and recreation management companies have emerged like Recreation Resource Management. Reduction and retrenchment In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers have downsized, closed, or sold off facilities and land. Local agencies may take heed the strategies of states like Arizona, which closed 21 of 30 state parks in the summer of 2010 to deal with the effects of the Great Recession. Aim Mechanism Description of Strategies Examples From Municipal Recreation and Parks Increase revenue Fees and charges In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers charge for particular services and amenities. Many cities like Seattle utilize rentals fees for daily use of facilities (e.g., pools or courts) and equipment (e.g., balls or rackets) or for holding special events. Philanthropy sponsorship In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out donations from the public, from nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Sponsorship, which includes naming rights is currently gaining traction in public support and public management discussions. A Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations from citizens and nonprofit charities and foundations. Crowd sourcing has become another strategy used to fund parks (at least the development of new ones). On a small scale, parks have benches sponsored and engraved with names. On a larger scale, prominent parks and recreation departments like Oakland, California and Fairfax County, Virginia have introduced plans for naming rights to their parks. Decrease expenses Partnerships contracting privatization In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out nonprofit and for-profit service providers to fulfil functions they would have otherwise conducted themselves. Many local parks and recreation providers like Austin, Texas contract out with instructors to teach courses. A number of other cities like Adrian, Michigan have partnered with YMCAs (or other organizations) to provide programs to local citizens. On a larger scale, private parks and recreation management companies have emerged like Recreation Resource Management. Reduction and retrenchment In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers have downsized, closed, or sold off facilities and land. Local agencies may take heed the strategies of states like Arizona, which closed 21 of 30 state parks in the summer of 2010 to deal with the effects of the Great Recession. View Large Table 3. Adaptation Mechanisms Aim Mechanism Description of Strategies Examples From Municipal Recreation and Parks Increase revenue Fees and charges In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers charge for particular services and amenities. Many cities like Seattle utilize rentals fees for daily use of facilities (e.g., pools or courts) and equipment (e.g., balls or rackets) or for holding special events. Philanthropy sponsorship In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out donations from the public, from nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Sponsorship, which includes naming rights is currently gaining traction in public support and public management discussions. A Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations from citizens and nonprofit charities and foundations. Crowd sourcing has become another strategy used to fund parks (at least the development of new ones). On a small scale, parks have benches sponsored and engraved with names. On a larger scale, prominent parks and recreation departments like Oakland, California and Fairfax County, Virginia have introduced plans for naming rights to their parks. Decrease expenses Partnerships contracting privatization In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out nonprofit and for-profit service providers to fulfil functions they would have otherwise conducted themselves. Many local parks and recreation providers like Austin, Texas contract out with instructors to teach courses. A number of other cities like Adrian, Michigan have partnered with YMCAs (or other organizations) to provide programs to local citizens. On a larger scale, private parks and recreation management companies have emerged like Recreation Resource Management. Reduction and retrenchment In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers have downsized, closed, or sold off facilities and land. Local agencies may take heed the strategies of states like Arizona, which closed 21 of 30 state parks in the summer of 2010 to deal with the effects of the Great Recession. Aim Mechanism Description of Strategies Examples From Municipal Recreation and Parks Increase revenue Fees and charges In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers charge for particular services and amenities. Many cities like Seattle utilize rentals fees for daily use of facilities (e.g., pools or courts) and equipment (e.g., balls or rackets) or for holding special events. Philanthropy sponsorship In order to increase revenues to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out donations from the public, from nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Sponsorship, which includes naming rights is currently gaining traction in public support and public management discussions. A Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations from citizens and nonprofit charities and foundations. Crowd sourcing has become another strategy used to fund parks (at least the development of new ones). On a small scale, parks have benches sponsored and engraved with names. On a larger scale, prominent parks and recreation departments like Oakland, California and Fairfax County, Virginia have introduced plans for naming rights to their parks. Decrease expenses Partnerships contracting privatization In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers seek out nonprofit and for-profit service providers to fulfil functions they would have otherwise conducted themselves. Many local parks and recreation providers like Austin, Texas contract out with instructors to teach courses. A number of other cities like Adrian, Michigan have partnered with YMCAs (or other organizations) to provide programs to local citizens. On a larger scale, private parks and recreation management companies have emerged like Recreation Resource Management. Reduction and retrenchment In order to decrease expenses to counteract decreasing public funding, parks and recreation service providers have downsized, closed, or sold off facilities and land. Local agencies may take heed the strategies of states like Arizona, which closed 21 of 30 state parks in the summer of 2010 to deal with the effects of the Great Recession. View Large Fees and Charges To avoid venturing outside of the public services realm and losing a great deal of political authority, a likely first choice for adaptation is to adopt fees and charges, which may place some or all the burden of its costs and operating expenses on its users. Park (2017) notes the local revenue potential of nontax sources such as fees/charges and fines/forfeitures, especially when faced with a worsening economic situation. Godbey (2006) predicted that successful leisure services would need to rethink “pricing, timing, and platforms” (244). In response to declining federal support to municipalities, many parks and recreation agencies, programs, and facilities have turned to user fees or charges to cover their operating costs (Chipkin 2011; Godbey et al. 2005). Modern municipal parks and recreation providers may self-generate up to a third of their total revenue (Crompton and Kaczynski 2003), primarily from program/class fees and charges, facility entry fees/memberships, and facility rental fees (NRPA 2015). Along with removing some of the financing burden from taxpayers, user fees have also been shown to reduce overall expenditure (Sun and Jung 2012). However, the practice of charging user fees gives rise to questions of social equality. Parks that charge user fees may result in a service that has traditionally been viewed as a public good becoming inaccessible to low income residents, or those residents may receive lower quality services (Engelberg et al. 2016), which is a consequence of significance for publicness. The need to properly price these fees and charges enters municipal parks and recreation enters it into the market as a service that can be bought and sold and compared to alternative services available, which overall changes its level of market authority. The shift appears more reflective of a Type 1 change (table 1) with the increase in market authority, but may be a road to decreases in political authority, which underpins a Type 2 change. Further, the question arises, “At what point (price or quantity) do fees (even if charged by public entities) make a public resource private?” (for more on this debate, see More and Stevens, 2000). Philanthropy and Sponsorship A second option, should fees and charges not cover costs, would be to reduce services. Parks and recreation providers might also look to the private or nonprofit sectors for philanthropy or sponsorships. Fundraising and development of revenue streams outside of public financing have also been proposed as solutions to declining tax bases for municipal parks and recreation (Perlmutter and Cnaan 1995). For example, the Philadelphia Recreation Commissioner raised over $500,000 in private donations to support department initiatives (Perlmutter and Cnaan 1995). Mizrahi (2012) found that given the right conditions (e.g., market and government failures) citizens will be driven to self-provide, utilizing informal methods and strategies to satisfy their immediate needs for particular public services. The industry is now beginning to see Kickstarter funding campaigns for “pocket parks” (e.g., Scott 2014) or “parklets” (e.g., Morlan 2014) in metropolitan areas and the proliferation of private parks and recreation facilities (e.g., Coats 2013). Foundations and nonprofit charities are often strong allies in support of parks and recreation services (Crompton 1999a). Many parks and recreation managers pursue foundation grants to cope with financial shortfalls (Barnes and Brayley 2006; Crompton 1999a). These findings are consistent with previous work surrounding the coproduction of public service delivery between nonprofits and public service providers, whereas nonprofits may solicit funds for service-providers or serve as substitutes for services (Paarlberg and Gen 2008). Corporate sponsorship of parks has become increasingly popular (Crompton 1999a; Mowen, Kyle, and Jackowski 2007). Three frequent reasons for considering corporate sponsorships are: (a) revenue is critically needed; (b) strategies are needed to deal with a large increase in the scale and number of programs; and, (c) a firmer comprehension of sponsorship has been reached by government agencies (Crompton 1999a, 1999b). There do appear to be a number of concerns to be addressed with corporate sponsorship, despite apparent community support for it as a strategy. Local residents may support sponsorship when such sponsorship is from local businesses and where services are provided with no or limited user fees (Mowen et al. 2007). However, Mowen and colleagues (2007) found that, “Sponsorships involving naming rights, exclusivity, and user fees were evaluated least favorably” (94). There were also differences between users, ages, and ethnic minority groups. “By whom” and “in what contexts” again appear as concerns of local citizens when outsourcing their local services (e.g., Ferris and Graddy 1986). Caution and solicitation of public opinion are essential when considering corporate sponsorship (Pitas et al. 2015). Sponsorship not only impacts financing, but also public perception and political authority, which can lead to controversy. An example of such controversy can be seen in the 2016 changes in donor recognition by the US National Parks Service, which many have criticized as one step towards direct corporate sponsorship (Schaffer 2016). These tensions reflect the Type 2 shift where political authority at least has the appearance of being lessoned and market authority whether in either the social or for-profit sector or both is increased. Partnerships, Contracting, and Privatization Even more drastically, parks and recreation may become privatized in whole or in part by (nonprofit and for-profit) organizations that are willing to provide services, which may or may not come with a fee or charge for users. Municipal parks and recreation has sought to build relationships with local citizens and nonprofit and for-profit contractors to provide direct services (Edginton et al. 2001; Jang 2006; Silverberg, Marshall, and Ellis 2001). Many municipal parks and recreation providers still rely on volunteers to carry out their daily affairs and local events (Silverberg et al. 2001). Others utilize local volunteer boards to support their services (Dougherty and Easton 2011). Additionally, many municipal parks and recreation providers contract with local citizens to serve as instructors or facilitators for their programs (Marsh, Derose, and Cohen 2012). For many, the government agency is no longer the direct service provider, yet their role has shifted to be the enabler of services and programs that increase community well-being. Smith (1991) wrote, “While the community recreation agency should continue to provide programs and operate facilities, in the future, the role of the agency must evolve into that of a facilitator and coordinator of all organizations in the community that provide recreation services” (63). Seeking to fulfill their social mission, nonprofits have moved program delivery roles for parks and recreation services. Jang (2006) noted the lucrativeness of partnerships and contracts with nonprofits: “If nonprofit contractors have a significant cost advantage over other production choices, the competitiveness of the market for potential nonprofit contractors should lead higher efficiency gains from contracting out to nonprofits” (815). Privatization of services has become a common strategy enacted by many in parks and recreation. Callahan (1989) identified the need and opportunity for local public parks and recreation to privatize services (see also Edginton et al. 2001), and privatization is increasingly seen as a way to improve services and control costs in easily measurable, technical fields (Barnekov and Raffel 1990). Many cities have moved towards privatizing services to reduce costs, raise revenues, improve services, reduce public employee numbers, limit legal liabilities, reduce the influence of unions, and gain access to more skillful workers. Poister and Henry (1994) in their comparison of private and public services found no differences in citizen attitudes towards the quality of those services. Public services may not actually be inferior to those provided by the private sector and vice versa. Overall, city officials in the late 1990s felt that privatization did reduce costs and improve delivery across city services (Dilger et al., 1997). Furthermore, Crompton (1998) summarized the four primary forces that have pushed agencies to pursue privatization as a method: (a) frustration with the rigid and high costs of traditional direct service methods; (b) convergence in political ideology on privatization as a strategy; (c) acknowledgement that the supply of monopolized services is inherently inefficient; and, (d) public awareness of the difference between service production and provision. Thus, privatization serves as a direct response to the political desires to lower taxes, reduce the monopolistic activity of government, and separate decision making from service delivery. Nonprofits appear to receive longer-term contracts than for-profits; however, nonprofit privatization is pursued far less by local municipalities than for-profit privatization (Gilroy 2010; Warner and Hefetz 2009). With nonprofit privatization, the high degree of task uncertainty and low degree of accountability in the relationship between the nonprofit service provider and public entity are potential pitfalls. Public officials appear to put more trust in nonprofits than for-profits when contracting out services (Witesman and Fernandez 2012). More recently, Jang (2006) noted, “Although contracting out the delivery of municipal service has been attractive to local government because it often promises substantial cost savings…[it has] not always held that contracting out reduces service expenditures” (814). Costs will vary depending on the service, institution, community, and agency. Although some parks have modest economic impact largely because they are undeveloped, it is important to maintain them, as some economic impact is better than none (Donnelly et al. 1998). Yet states like Arizona have recently closed most state parks with minimal economic significance (e.g., Newton 2010), demonstrating that maintaining parks that provide little economic gain is not a priority for decision-makers. Additionally, a number of parks and recreation entities have employed other strategies not traditional to the public sector, such as competitive bidding, commercial property endowment, and others (Crompton 2010). This is enterprising at its finest, wherein market strategies are borrowed and applied. But, Haque (2001) still cautions that a “transition toward a market-driven mode has created a serious challenge to publicness” (65), which warrants further investigation. Again, these tensions reflect the Type 2 shift where political authority is further decreased and market authority is further increased. Retrenchment and Reduction Type 3 or Type 4 shifts may be seen in municipal parks and recreation through retrenchment and reduction of services. Type 3 might better reflect a retrenchment of a service a service that has been privatized, and Type 4 might reflect general reduction or retrenchment since political authority is unaffected. The advantages of retrenchment in parks and recreation include the ability to direct resources to higher priorities, to enhance the success of new services and to strengthen the overall organization (Crompton 1984; 1988). There are factors that make some programs difficult to eliminate, such as political expediency user concerns, or legal matters (Crompton 1984; 1988). In the current climate, retrenchment is sometimes politically expedient, as user concerns may be outweighed by concerns over public expenditures and investment. Many have called for the greater involvement of citizens in the fiscal retrenchment process, but in fact, highly involved citizens sometimes actually favor the retrenchment of services (Jimenez 2013). “Participatory cities have a higher probability of adopting highly contentious strategies, including eliminating services and laying off workers compared with nonparticipatory cities” (Jimenez 2013, 923). When trying to address how to raise revenue for municipalities, citizens desired to avoid raising property taxes (Jimenez 2013). Although few have strongly taken up the mantle to speak to retrenchment in the parks and recreation literature, retrenchment of public services remains a concern for public administration (Fotaki 2011). Maintaining Publicness After Adaptation The adaptation mechanisms of municipal parks and recreation were presented as examples of previous thinking and actions for adaptation. The shifts observed and describe throughout the history of municipal parks and recreation highlight the need for the service to retain its publicness. The shift towards flexible networks and networking is demonstrated in parks and recreation, especially as the role of parks and recreation personnel shifts away from direct service provision to facilitating services (Freysinger and Kelly 2004; Godbey 2006). These shifts must not move away from service to the public. Active citizen involvement remains important to successful adaption (Bryson, Crosby, and Bloomberg 2014; Bryson, Crosby, and Stone 2015; Child et al. 2015; Hope and Dempsey 2000; Martin 2000). Although it is interesting that so many have commented on the future of public parks and recreation and the threats to its survival, it seems the old adage articulated by the late Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, that all politics are local, seems to have taken hold. Insights and Future Research on Other Adaptation Types As noted earlier, this study concerned a “Type 2” shift where high political authority shifts to lower political authority and low market authority shifts to high market authority. Private and nonprofit strategies (e.g., fees, philanthropy, sponsorships, etc.) are applied to a public service (i.e., parks and recreation) that has traditionally relied upon public support (e.g., tax revenue). Important similarities and differences can be found among the other adaptation types. A short synopsis of the other types and their adaptation mechanisms is provided next, but these types and their mechanisms need further investigation in future research. A “Type 1” shift where political authority remains high, but market authority shifts from low to high may demonstrate similar and different movements as Type 2. One example of this shift is the movement in higher education from nonprofit models to for-profit enterprises. Although the nonprofit models are reliant on philanthropy and tuition fees, they strive to be exclusive (e.g., admission caps) to be attractive in the market. This strategy requires limits on enrollment, which can be detrimental to institutions that fail to reach their enrollment goals whilst maintain high admission standards. For-profit higher education companies have fees like nonprofit entities; however, they often maintain lower admission requirements to attract as many enrollees focusing on ease of entry for applicants rather than exclusivity (Parker 2012). The “Types 3 and 4” shifts are very different if not opposite of the “Type 1 and 2” shifts in adaptation mechanisms. A “Type 3” shift, where political authority shifts from low to high with market authority shifting from high to low, reflects an opposite shift to Type 2. One example of this shift is the formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace private airport security following the attacks on September 11, 2001. Opposite of parks and recreation, a privatized industry became nationalized and increasingly regulated. A “Type 4” shift maintains high political authority, but market authority moves from high to low. This shift is demonstrated by the increased government control over the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association. With this shift, the mechanisms put in place reflect the nationalization of an already highly regulated private industry. These industrial shifts along with their adaptation mechanisms require further investigation. Conclusion: Withering Public Services and/or Adaptive Publicness For decades, scholars have recognized the inherent complexities surrounding industrial change and have devoted considerable attention to understanding the change of service industries over time. Theory development in this domain has offered considerable insight into the role of important factors including consumer demand, labor, and capital in effecting change in market organizations over time. For public organizations, it has identified such factors as resources, political support, citizen participation and environmental change as critical drivers of public organization change. One shortcoming with this work is that it tends to focus on market factors as change agents for market organizations and political factors as change agents for public organizations. Although there is some conceptual cross-fertilization between the two paradigms, the bulk of thinking in each domain tends to be more narrowly focused than is necessary. Through the theory of adaptive publicness presented here, two primary contributions to this literature are offered. First, the central assertion of publicness theory is presented: that all organizations operate under some interaction of political and market authority. Second, the various forms of industrial change that can be characterized are recognized through this interactive of multiple dimensions of authority. Thus, rather than moving on a single axis between public and private status, industrial change can occur across multiple dimensions. The pressure to cut costs but maintain high quality among public services highlights intertwined nature of the two contributions noted above. The moving target that is the equilibrium of public services in costs, quality, and publicness continues to shift. Although decisions about making public the provision of such services is crucial, social innovation will be essential. Peter Drucker (2006 [1985]) wrote, “Indeed, there may be greater scope in the United States—and in developed societies generally—for social innovation in education, health care, government, and politics than there is in business and the economy” (p. 17). Innovation must be at the core of the missions and policies regarding public services. Future research must continue to explore the social innovations occurring in public services that draw from strategies employed across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Investigations of these social innovation strategies must source global perspectives on social innovations in public services that both cut costs and maintain high quality or improve quality of service as well. The mechanisms and shifts noted do raise questions regarding motivation. First, does necessity for survival force the adaptation mechanisms upon the public agency or do the public agencies utilize these mechanisms as part of a larger adaption plan to ensure resilience against future political or market-based threats? This raises the aforementioned notion of short-term versus long-term planning decisions; these decisions result as responses to either or both political or market pressures. Many of the mechanisms may be apparent short-term responses, such as a sudden rise in rental or user fees, a philanthropy event to prevent the closing of a park, or the selling of property or facilities to shore up public budgets. But as part of a larger plan, these mechanisms likely can be used as tools for fostering resilience against political or market threats to public systems like parks and recreation. Much more research is needed in this area regarding these short versus long-term questions and strategies and resilience as an outcome of adaptation. Although parks and recreation services have traditionally been viewed as primarily public services, important changes are taking place, which cannot be fully understood through a purely political lens. The growth of private companies operating in this space, complex networks of private and public actors, and the proliferation of nonprofit and philanthropic engagements requires broader conceptual perspectives. There are many public and private industries undergoing changes that are better understood through these broader conceptual perspectives. Furthermore, private enterprises have begun to force changes in public institutions by attacking those institutions from within. For example, the case of Xanterra2 and its impact on the National Park Service (NPS) warrants mentioning. Xanterra, a private corporation, is the largest concessionaire of the United States National Park Service (Carlsen and Edwards 2008). Concerns have arisen regarding Xanterra’s hold over the National Park Service sites. Recently, they have filed lawsuits against the NPS citing mismanagement regarding bidding and contracts at the Grand Canyon. Their aggressive and protective tactics have proved challenging to NPS, especially economically and managerially (see Blevins 2014). For example, a recent article by O’Connor (2017) raised concerns regarding potential increases in visitor costs because of privatization models like Xanterra and NPS. Future research on adaptive publicness and potential models for the phenomenon will benefit by accounting for these special private-public interactions. Furthermore, the Xanterra example highlights the uniqueness of parks and recreation as a prime example to explore and assess adaptive publicness theory. Future research within the parks and recreation field can utilize the adaptive publicness approach to better understand the success and failures of the decisions made in that field. Adaptive publicness is not a simple dichotomous choice; it is likely more of a spectrum than already presented. Future research should explore how the decision to adapt too far in one direction or another might also be problematic. 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This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Perspectives on Public Management and GovernanceOxford University Press

Published: Sep 27, 2017

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