Date of Award

Winter 2015

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Kevin Gardner

Second Advisor

Thomas P Ballestero

Third Advisor

Christine B Feurt


The purpose of this study was to investigate the social, economic and technological factors that influence rates of adoption of innovative stormwater management approaches in municipal organizations in the Great Bay watershed, NH. The scope of this study was to investigate how innovations spread through municipal populations in a specific region and watershed area of the US. The methodology used mixed qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews, case studies, and surveys to examine perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs that influence the adoption of innovative stormwater management solutions, as well as the governance characteristics of municipalities at different stages of adoption. Major findings include: adopter categories can be relatively easily and quickly categorized into early and late majorities as a preliminary means to identify populations of ready and willing audiences interested in and capable of advancing innovations; early and late adopter classifications followed general diffusion theory, but differed in substantial ways that could influence overall project or program success; and finally that early majority communities have more internal and external capacity to advance innovations as well as higher levels of peer-to-peer trust to offset perceptions related to economic risk that can either advance or stall innovative stormwater management solution adoption. This research offers insights on how to allocate scarce resources to optimally improve water quality through stormwater management solutions, and makes recommendations for how to effectively and efficiently generate greater understanding of complex barriers to adoption that thwart innovation in municipal governance organizations. One significant implication is that agents of change who want to move innovations through a broad municipal population should focus their efforts on working with innovators and early adopters that have status within relevant peer networks and who have capacity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of innovations.