Towards Understanding the Scalar Re-Organisation of Natural Resource Governance: Factors Derived from Water Governance in Spain, Portugal and Germany

Water governance has significantly transformed in Europe because of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) . This paper first presents a framework for explaining this phenomenon and second it ilustrates the framework by applying it to three cases . The framework relies on a combination of theories of institutional change in order to do justice to the different perspectives actors involved hold. Such a conceptual framework allows to address two kinds of explanation of the way water governance is organised: a) it may be the outcome of actors’ pursuance of individual gains (interest driven explanation), b) it may be the outcome of actors’ striving for the most cost effective way of organising resource governance (functionalist explanation). Implicit in these conceptions the role of changes in actors’ perceptions and mental models are considered with regard to water governance on the one hand, and changes in water use patterns and perceptions in regard to their regulation on the other. Subsequent application of the analytical framework to the cases of Spain, Portugal and Germany based on extensive qualitative field work allows to develop first elements of a theory of processes of scalar organisation. It is concluded that changes in the interrelated value of the resources and technologies of production and exclusion shaped preferred outcomes of specific actors and their mental models. These have been complemented by changes in interrelated institutions and changes in ideologies. Altogether, these factors change the perceived (transaction) costs and benefits of specific governance arrangements. However, these are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for scalar reorganisation of water governance. What actor groups perceive as beneficial to their ends from a cost-benefit point of view changes but also differs for their specific institutional environment. In order to make changes in what actor groups hold as preferable means and ends effective in changes in competencies, it is necessary for the corresponding actors to be able to bring their positions to bear on negotiations in the corresponding action situations of constitutional or legislative choice.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2019-08-29

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