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The South Korean irrigation reform of 1979 is an attempt to arrest certain trends in the financial allocations of Farmland Improvement Associations, which the government regards as harmful for the productivity of irrigated agriculture. The method is to restructure the decision-making environment of canal managers in such a way that they have a monetary incentive to decide on a more productive use of resources, against the short-term interests of FLIA members. Study of the response of FLIA staff to the new measures over the next several years offers an opportunity for an exploration of how the central govern­ment attempts to control local parastatal agencies, and of the reactions of their staff to those attempts. Such a study also allows an exploration of the compari­son with irrigation reform in Taiwan, and in particular, of the extent to which the differences in reform trajectory are due to differences in the value of irri­gation water between the two countries, or to differences in politics.


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