Christopher S. Galik, School of Public and International Affairs, North Carolina State University
Christopher S. Galik, PhD

Christopher S. Galik, PhD
Director, Sustainable Futures Initiative
Department of Public Administration
School of Public and International Affairs
North Carolina State University

Institutional Stability and Change in Environmental Governance
Policy & Politics | Policy Press, 2023 | Volume 51: Issue 3

Efforts to better understand what prevents institutions from changing to meet contemporary demands – or what facilitates the evolution of existing constructs to address new challenges – are of particular import and relevance to environmental governance. While the existing literature provides valuable conceptualisation and empirical evaluation of institutional stability and change, the lack of a consistent and holistic typology complicates the evaluation of institutions over time.

In this article, Christopher S. Galik, Yuhao Ba (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore), and Christopher Bobbitt (North Carolina State University) use a combined stability–change typology to assess the dominant modes of institutional change and stability over a multi-decadal timespan across three environmental governance systems – air quality governance in the US and China, and climate governance in the European Union. Across cases, they find that these modes are not mutually exclusive but can occur simultaneously, in concert or in conflict. They also find that observed patterns of change and stability are reflective of the social and political context in which systems operate, as well as the focus of the system itself (for example, localised air quality versus global climate change).

Apart from providing a proof-of-concept analysis of institutional change and stability, their findings raise questions about the mechanisms underlying spatial and temporal patterns across identified modes. Indirectly, the findings also further highlight challenges to designing systems both resilient to exogenous stressors and capable of adapting to new situations. Their combined stability–change typology may help to advance understanding of whether and how such balancing has occurred in the past, thus facilitating future efforts to address contemporary challenges.

Christopher Galik joined NC State in August 2016 as a Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire in Sustainable Energy Systems and Policy (SESP). Galik is a professor in the Department of Public Administration, and is primarily interested in the areas of institutions and the portability of governance systems. He brings an interdisciplinary perspective to his work, leveraging expertise in institutional theory, economics, and the natural sciences to address energy and environmental management and policy challenges. Recent research includes an evaluation of institutional stability in environmental governance, the influence of historical transitions on the adoption of sustainable practices at the local level, and the contribution of voluntary actions to climate change mitigation objectives.

Galik obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology from Vassar College, a master’s degree in resource economics and policy from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in forestry and environmental resources from North Carolina State University. Galik returns to NC State via Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, where he worked for a decade on a variety of environmental and energy policy research and outreach initiatives. He has published multiple whitepapers, briefs, and online discussion papers, as well as articles in journals such as Nature Climate Change, Global Environmental Change, Climate Policy, Applied Energy, Energy Policy, and others. Galik has also worked with private sector, NGO, academic, state government, and federal agency stakeholders to plan and convene multiple panels, workshops, and symposia on a wide variety of energy and environmental policy issues.