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      What determines the performance of low-carbon cities in China? Analysis of the grouping based on the technology—Organization—Environment framework


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          Background and objectives

          Addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions have emerged as shared global objectives. Enhancing the development performance of low-carbon cities has become an urgent and widely acknowledged concern for both government policy-making departments and academics. Drawing upon the complex grouping perspective and resource allocation theory, this study investigates how varying conditions related to technology, organization, and environment in Chinese low-carbon pilot cities can effectively allocate resources to shape the governance performance of low-carbon cities.

          Methods and data

          This paper employs a comprehensive grouping analysis perspective, treating the research object as a combination of various ways between condition variables. It integrates the advantages of case studies and variable studies, and investigates the collective relationships between elemental groupings and outcomes using the fsQCA analysis method. This approach facilitates the understanding of multiple concurrent causal relationships within the technology-organization-environment (TOE) framework, accounting for different performance levels in Chinese low-carbon pilot cities, as well as addressing complex causal issues such as asymmetry and multiple scenario equivalence. Data from 30 representative low-carbon pilot cities in China were employed to validate the TOE theoretical framework.


          No single element alone can be considered a necessary condition for low-carbon city governance performance. However, environmental enhancement plays a more prominent role in the governance performance of low-carbon cities. Additionally, the presence of "multiple concurrent" technical, organizational, and environmental conditions leads to a diverse range of governance performance in Chinese low-carbon pilot cities. In other words, the driving paths of low-carbon city performance exhibit distinct pathways.


          The findings of this study can assist low-carbon pilot city managers in generating effective governance ideas, facilitating the successful implementation of low-carbon city pilot projects, and drawing valuable lessons from the experience of low-carbon city development in China.

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          Most cited references60

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              Building Better Causal Theories: A Fuzzy Set Approach to Typologies in Organization Research

              P. Fiss (2011)

                Author and article information

                Role: Conceptualization
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: Funding acquisitionRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Conceptualization
                Role: Data curation
                Role: Resources
                Role: Resources
                Role: Visualization
                Role: Supervision
                Role: Resources
                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS One
                PLOS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                15 August 2023
                : 18
                : 8
                : e0289160
                [1 ] Department of Management and Economics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China
                [2 ] College of Politics and Public Administration, Qinghai Minzu University, Xining, Qinghai Province, China
                [3 ] Department of Party Committee, Party School of the Qinghai Provincial Committee of CPC, Xining, Qinghai Province, China
                [4 ] College of Chunming, Hainan University, Haikou, Hainan Province, China
                [5 ] College of Finance and Economics, Qinghai University, Xining, Qinghai Province, China
                [6 ] College of Economics and Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China
                [7 ] Health Education Services Department, Xining Aier Eye Hospital, Xining, Qinghai Province, China
                Shenzhen University, CHINA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Author information
                © 2023 Chen et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 24 March 2023
                : 8 July 2023
                Page count
                Figures: 12, Tables: 13, Pages: 32
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100019062, Tianjin Research Innovation Project for Postgraduate Students;
                Award ID: 2022BKYZ029
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Qinghai Minzu University
                Award ID: 23XJX01
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Qinghai Minzu University
                Award ID: 39D2023005
                Award Recipient :
                This paper was supported by the following three research projects. 1.Tianjin Research Innovation Project for Postgraduate Students:(2022BKYZ029)The linkage of technology-organization-environment condition Configuration on the construction of low carbon city in China's development performance. 2.Qinghai Minzu University:(23XJX01) Study on the Coupling Effect of Technology-Organization-Environmental Condition Configuration on the Performance of Low Carbon City Development in China. 3.Qinghai Minzu University:(39D2023005): The Impact of Low-Carbon Urban Transformation on Regional Employment Levels. QC is the recipient of the three funding program awards mentioned above.
                Research Article
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                Human Geography
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                People and Places
                Geographical Locations
                Physical Sciences
                Computer and Information Sciences
                Computer Networks
                Engineering and Technology
                Energy and Power
                Alternative Energy
                Ecology and Environmental Sciences
                Terrestrial Environments
                Urban Environments
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                Custom metadata
                The data utilized in this study were obtained from several reputable publications, namely the China 21st Century Finance and Economics Net Zero Carbon Cities Report, China City Statistical Yearbook, Statistical Yearbook of Chinese Provinces, China Big Data Development Report, China Internet Development Status Statistical Report, China Business Environment Evaluation Report for Large and Medium-sized Cities in 2020, China Environment Statistical Yearbook, Carbon Peak Implementation Plans of Chinese Provinces, Chinese Government Transparency Index Report (China Blue Book Series), 2020 Microblog Influence Report of Government Affairs Index (published by People's Daily), and Marketization Index Report (China Blue Book Series) edited by Fan Gang. Due to copyright restrictions, the aforementioned data requires payment for access and is limited to paid scholarly research. Researchers who wish to examine the aforementioned publications and data can acquire them through their own purchase. Alternatively, researchers may contact the corresponding author of this paper via the provided email address ( 1022209089@ 123456tju.edu.cn ) to request the data. Upon contact, the authors will provide the necessary guidance to facilitate the purchase of the paid data and associated materials. A subset of the data which is available has been included as Supporting Information.



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