Diagnosing integration: applying complex systems thinking to develop practical tools for diagnosing institutional arrangements and their resilience in integrated water governance contexts

Hood, Sarah Olive (2017) Diagnosing integration: applying complex systems thinking to develop practical tools for diagnosing institutional arrangements and their resilience in integrated water governance contexts. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Abstract

The developing water crisis is one of several emergent environmental crises that could produce catastrophic consequences for human health and wellbeing. Some biophysical scientists have described the world water crisis in terms of the resilience of various combinations of three problematic water management syndromes catchment by catchment throughout the globe, while some social scientists have described it as a crisis of governance.

In this thesis I provide new insights into the resilience of integration institutions within the context of the governance of the Condamine catchment, at the headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin in Queensland. I develop these insights by applying a complex adaptive systems framework of governance, integration institutions, resilience and power; developing contextual-historical understandings of which, how and why integration institutions are being produced in this context; and by experimenting with systemically aligned theories of power. In the process I develop practical tools for working on integration institutions whilst being located within complex water governance systems.

I apply combinations of five theoretical frameworks – complex adaptive systems; innovation systems; social-ecological systems; synchronisation framework; and, Foucault’s theory of power as a system of subject making – across four investigations. I collected data through ethnographic methods of observation; interview; and, the retrieval of artefacts (i.e. documents, photos and posters etc), whilst employing either instrumental case study or participatory action research methodologies. I analyse this data using discourse analysis and network analysis, and report the studies in the form of four journal articles which are in various stages of publication from submission through to being accepted and published.

In this study I demonstrate the merit of thinking systemically about water governance institutions and the source of their resilience, and demonstrate the applicability of complex systems thinking. I reveal the fluid hybrid networks of actor relations that sustain governance systems, and show that the complex and dynamic interactions that sustain fluid hybrid networks are the source of institutional resilience. The results of the study challenges the use of short term interventions and innovation brokers within projects not grounded in systemic thinking.

As the study was exploratory in nature several future research opportunities within a broader thematic turn towards complexity thinking in water and environmental governance research can be identified. More experimentation with the use of these tools and theoretical frameworks is required. Finally the assertion that the use of short term interventions and innovation brokers within projects not grounded in complex systems thinking may produce counter-intuitive outcomes and therefore delay institutional change is worthy of further attention.


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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
Supervisors: Harrison, Karey
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2017 03:19
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2018 05:28
Uncontrolled Keywords: water catchment; Condamine; Murray Darling Basin; Queensland
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/32872

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