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Water 2019, 11(2), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020326

Actors in Water Governance: Barriers and Bridges for Coordination

1
Institute for Environmental Decisions, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
2
Institute of Political Science and Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
3
Department of Environmental Social Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenges of Water Management and Governance in Cities)
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Abstract

Multiple actors across different institutional levels play a role in water governance. The coordination of these actors is important for effective water governance. However, the joining together of multiple actors can have several implications, such as a redistribution of power across actors, a change in democratic control and citizen influence as well as shifting accountability structures. These implications can involve different barriers and bridges that might impede or foster coordination. Through qualitative and quantitative methods, we assess the following barriers and bridges for coordination: (1) reputational power in terms of who is perceived as important for coordination in the water sector; (2) democratic legitimacy in terms of actors’ value of local control of water services; and (3) accountability in terms of the regional actors’ capacity to steer in the water sector. This article focuses on three cases in a Swiss region that has experienced water provision challenges due to its highly fragmented water supply structures. We find that reputational power serves as a bridge in our three cases: when the actors responsible for water supply regard potential coordination partners as important, then we observe coordination. In contrast, we do not find conclusive evidence to support the assumption that a fear of losing local control is a barrier for coordination. Instead, our results indicate that accountability, in the form of vertical steering by the regional actors, serves as a bridge for coordination, and that this could help mitigate some of the potentially negative effects of democratic legitimacy perceptions: through convening local actors or providing positive incentives to municipalities to work together, regional actors can foster coordination. View Full-Text
Keywords: coordination; water supply; social network analysis coordination; water supply; social network analysis
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Lieberherr, E.; Ingold, K. Actors in Water Governance: Barriers and Bridges for Coordination. Water 2019, 11, 326.

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