Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Public Administration

Advisor's Name

Howard A. Frank

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Bruce Nissen

Advisor's Title

Committee Member

Advisor's Name

Esteban G. Dalehite

Advisor's Title

Committee Member

Advisor's Name

Ronald M. Berkman

Advisor's Title

Committee Member

Keywords

public administration, policy conflict, stakeholders, living wage, organizational culture, organizational politics, policy ambiguity, organizational capacity

Date of Defense

3-13-2008

Abstract

Since 2000, the number of living wage ordinances has steadily increased throughout the country. While most of the current research has focused on the beneficial outcomes of living wages, little has been published on their administrative practices. To address this shortcoming, this study focused on the identification of key administrative and political factors involved impacting the implementation of living wage ordinances in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

The study utilized a triangulation of interviews, surveys, and direct observation. The author conducted interviews of administrators and members of the living wage oversight boards in both counties and observed the monthly meetings held by each county’s oversight board from January 2006 to June 2007. These findings were buttressed with a national survey of senior staff in other living wage communities. The study utilized descriptive statistics, Chi Square, Cronbach’s Alpha, and Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient (Spearman’s rho).

Interviews indicated that administrators in Dade and Broward are seriously under-staffed and budgeted. Ambiguities in the enabling ordinances have lead to loopholes that undermine implementation and accountability for participating contractors. Survey results showed that policy ambiguity, organizational politics, and a lack of organizational capacity were significant negative factors in the implementation process while an organizational culture emphasizing consistent enforcement was a positive factor.

Without the proper inputs, an organization hinders itself from meeting its outputs and outcomes. This study finds that Broward and Miami-Dade Counties do not provide the necessary administrative support to implement a living wage effectively – in stark contrast to the high hopes and strong political support behind their passage. For a living wage to succeed, it first needs an organizational culture committed to providing the necessary resources for implementation as well as transparent, consistent accountability mechanisms.

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