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The role of leadership in depleting institutional ethos: the case of Scott Pruitt and the Environmental Protection Agency

  • Nino AntadzeEmail author
Article
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Abstract

By borrowing theoretical insights from institutional theory and environmental and military sociology, the paper examines a relatively unobservable yet deep impact of Scott Pruitt’s tenure as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator: changes in the institutional ethos of the EPA. Institutional ethos refers to the intangible and invisible fabric of the institution—its “spirit”—and implies the interconnection between moral priorities and emotions. The paper argues that Pruitt’s actions have been depleting the value dimension of the institutional ethos by devaluing the EPA’s mission, and depleting the emotive dimension of the institutional ethos by demoralizing EPA employees. The paper adds to the growing literature on the implications of the ongoing changes to US environmental policy and practice under the Trump Administration, and the counter-actions initiated by those opposing the current policy priorities. This paper serves as a call for further empirical research to uncover relatively intangible impacts of the Trump presidency on the EPA and other environmental institutions. More broadly, the paper intervenes in the scholarly discussion about the moral implications of institutional changes, especially ones exerted by political processes, and the impact of these changes on the character and integrity of institutions.

Keywords

Environmental Protection Agency Trump Pruitt Institutional ethos Institutional change Institutional leadership 

Notes

References

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Copyright information

© AESS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental StudiesUniversity of Prince Edward IslandCharlottetownCanada

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