Characterizing methods to investigate water resources governance

Authors: Kristin Sleeper*,
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Global Change, Qualitative Research
Keywords: water governance, methodology, literature review
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Governance of water resources is often a nebulous and difficult topic to research due to the complexity of social-hydrological systems and hydrologic uncertainty. Areas of high municipal, agricultural, environmental, and industrial water demand often coincide with arid climates and growing populations, requiring the swift production of new knowledge and development of strategies to increase the social capacity to respond. From origins in the fields of law, sociology, and public administration, empirical literature on governance has expanded to include information on governance of natural resources generally, but also specific resources, such as water. As such, the suite of methodological approaches applied to investigate water governance is rapidly evolving, and distinct areas of governance research are garnering attention. To better understand the range of methods currently employed to explore water governance, I performed a literature review examining methods applied in the top 30 cited empirical research papers on water governance over the past ten years according to Google Scholar. In this poster presentation, I highlight a range of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methodological approaches, and a provide a comparative analysis of terminology, research objectives, data collection, and analysis techniques. The literature review reveals the prevalence of multiple methodologies, with discipline-specific literature developing unique methodological guidance and terminology. The breadth used to characterize water governance underscores the strong influence of theoretical framings and the practical limitations of evaluating water governance in the context of rapid global change. This review closes with an agenda for future water resource governance research using novel methodological combinations.

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