• local public economies;
  • IAD framework;
  • metropolitan governance;
  • fragmentation;
  • polycentricity;
  • protected areas;
  • Adirondack Park;
  • Yellowstone National Park;
  • wilderness preservation

One important extension of the IAD framework has been to the study of local public economies. These are multi-organizational, multi-level arrangements defined as the set of governmental jurisdictions, public and nonprofit agencies, and private firms that interact in various patterns to provide and produce public goods and services within a specific locality or region. Commonly, the localities or regions studied from this perspective have been U.S. metropolitan areas, often defined as a central city and its surrounding or adjoining county. Localities can be delineated, however, on various terms, and in the IAD framework, it is the geo-physical nature of a locality that, in substantial part, drives the analysis. One of the strengths of the approach is its capacity to explain local variations in public organization as a function of the geo-physical diversity of localities, while at the same time developing empirical generalizations and normative principles that apply across diverse regions. What, for example, might the organization and governance of a complex metropolitan area have in common with the organization and governance of a complex protected area, such as the greater Yellowstone eco-region or the Adirondack Park? Construing both sorts of regions as local public economies can enhance our overall understanding of public organization at the same time that it permits a more nuanced understanding of diverse localities. Such work contributes to the ongoing IAD project of “understanding institutional diversity.”