Local administrations play a key role in delivering adaptation to climate change. To do so, they need to address collective action. Based on transaction costs economics, this paper explores the role of so-called integrative and segregative institutions in the way local administrations adapt – whether their different functional branches respond to climate change collectively rather than independently. Through a comparative analysis of 19 climate-sensitive local administrations in Germany, the paper shows that variation in the way local administrations structure their internal coordination determines the way they approach climate adaptation. Under integrative institutions, local administrations adjust prior coordination structures to accommodate adaptation. Under segregative institutions, administrations move towards integrative institutions in order to adapt, provided they already ‘feel’ climate change.