Thesis subject

The role of trust in water governance stakeholder networks: a case study approach

The development of mutual trust is commonly identified as one of the essential preconditions for successful collaboration between actors in water governance networks. However, the processes that lead to long lasting trust between actors in such networks are not fully understood. Patterns of distrust are still commonly observed. To improve such relations, government initiated interventions – such as democratic innovations/citizens participation – are increasingly implemented in different areas around water governance issues. Whether these initiatives result the anticipated effects, however, is far from sure.

This study fits in the larger “Enhancing Trust in Governments for effective water governance” (EnTruGo) project on which the supervisors currently work. The central aim of this project is to explore how public- and stakeholder trust in water governance processes can be enhanced in order to more effectively address the rapidly increasing requirements on water governance to successfully adapt to urgent societal water needs.

By means of a series of case studies we invite student to address some of the following questions:

  • How do innovation practices affect the development of trust between different actors in the networks under study?
  • Do different subtypes of trust play different roles in establishing inter-actor collaboration?
  • How does trust develop over time in the actor network under study?
  • What is the relation between inter-personal trust and trust between organizations in such networks?
  • What is the influence of higher levels of trust to more sustainable policy outcomes in such networks?

Type of research activities

The research approaches of those projects may vary. Most likely they involve participant observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The results will be rich contextual descriptions of the experiences and attitudes of stakeholders.

Type of student

We are looking for students with an interest in interactive processes (e.g. participation) in the context of environmental communication and governance. For instance MCH, MDR, MID etc.