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Drinking water service delivery choices in Poland: Empirical analysis of impact factors

Katarzyna Szmigiel-Rawska
Department of Local Development and Policy, Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland; k.szmigiel@uw.edu.pl

Julita Łukomska
Department of Local Development and Policy, Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland; j.lukomska@uw.edu.pl

ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on poli-organisational governance structures in which local governments provide services in the drinking water sector. A set of hypotheses was developed relating to the choice between in-house, corporatized, or externalised service delivery. The empirical evidence was based on long term socio-economic factors at local government levels in Poland. Local Polish government constitutes a highly decentralised system which features a wide range of service delivery governance arrangements. This is the first systematic attempt to investigate the different types of water service delivery in this environment. The model was tested using quantitative tools created on statistical variables, and by a survey of 1089 municipal representatives. The research findings provide insight into a set of context variables which describe the conditions under which local officials keep the service in-house, and the conditions that incline local authorities to engage public or private agents. The survey questionnaire allowed us to identify 15 different arrangements for drinking water supply delivery. The research findings provide evidence that the likelihood of in-house provision of water services is determined by the size of the local government, the abundance of the environment, the level of modernisation, and the locality’s financial self-management.

KEYWORDS: Service delivery modes, local government, water services, drinking water provision, Poland