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Developing an analytical framework for reconstructing the scalar reorganization of water governance as institutional change: The case of Southern Spain

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  • Thiel, Andreas

Abstract

Relying on theories of institutional change, a framework is developed to explain formal change in natural resource governance, in this case, formal scalar reorganization (re-scaling) of governance. Modifications of water governance are the outcome of interrelated changes in the determinants of actor-specific perceptions of costs and benefits of governance. To become effective, actors need to be able to bring their preferences to bear on constitutionally defined action situations where collective bargaining processes over governance take shape. Rescaling is conceptualized as being about whose economic interests are able to control the processes by which rescaling is advocated and carried out and whose technically, economically, or politically oriented vision of water management prevails. The framework developed goes beyond the alternatives of either functionalist problem-solving approaches or approaches focussing on political bargaining. Its application is illustrated through an in-depth qualitative case study of decentralization of governance in Spain's Guadalquivir river basin. Here, rescaling resulted from some politically dominant regional actors favoring better coordination of water management with regional environmental management and greater control of water and coincided with a political two-level majority at the national and regional levels. The case highlights the role of relations between institutional arrangements and biophysical settings, such as the specific geographical setting and changes in the relative importance of characteristics of the nature-related transactions, implicit, for example, in the changing relative importance groundwater management at the expense of surface water management.

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  • Thiel, Andreas, 2014. "Developing an analytical framework for reconstructing the scalar reorganization of water governance as institutional change: The case of Southern Spain," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 378-391.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:107:y:2014:i:c:p:378-391
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.09.007
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