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Policy Entrepreneurs and Change Strategies: Lessons from Sixteen Case Studies of Water Transitions around the Globe

Sander Meijerink, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University Nijmegen
Dave Huitema, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University Amsterdam


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This paper focuses on the role of policy entrepreneurs in realizing water policy transitions. The central questions are to what extent have policy entrepreneurs played a role in realizing major change in water policies, who are these policy entrepreneurs, and what strategies have they used to bring about change? The policy science literature suggests that policy entrepreneurs have an "arsenal" of possible strategies for achieving change. Based on a comparative analysis of water policy changes in 15 countries around the globe and the European Union, we investigate which strategies have in practice been used by policy entrepreneurs, to what effect, and which lessons for managing water transitions we can draw from this. The comparative case analysis shows that individuals play complementary roles; hence, entrepreneurship in water management is often collective entrepreneurship. Strategies of coalition building, the manipulation of decision making forums, and the strategic framing of issues and windows are crucial to understanding water policy change, which suggests that the management of water policy transitions is a highly political game. We conclude by listing recommendations for those who would like to direct water policy change.

Key words

change strategies; international comparison; policy change; policy entrepreneurs; transition management; water management
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087