Abstract: How do policy analysts perceive the various roles that Models, Simulations and Games (MSG) have, or can have in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)? Fifty-five policy analysts in water management in The Netherlands and China were interviewed, following the procedure of the Q-method. Comparative analysis of the combined quantitative and qualitative data show that: (1) The debate on the role of MSG for IWRM is structured around five frames in The Netherlands and three frames in China. (2) The frames in The Netherlands and China are significantly different. (3) In China, there is a predominant frame that perceives MSG for IWRM as data driven simulation technology for rationalization of water management, which is less significant in The Netherlands. (4) The reverse is true with regard to MSG for stakeholder interaction, learning and integrated assessment, which are significant frames in The Netherlands, but not in China. The conclusion is that frame differences can easily confuse professional and academic debate about MSG for water management; within the same institutional and cultural context, but even more so in Netherlands–China co-operation projects. Frames are also relevant when designing, using or evaluating innovative methods for integrated water resources management.
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