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Evaluating knowledge production in collaborative water governance

Brent Taylor
Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada;
Rob C. de Loƫ
Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada;
Henning Bjornlund
Department of Economics, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada; and School of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia;

ABSTRACT: Despite the crucial role of knowledge production in environmental decision-making, previous research provides limited practical insight into the knowledge-related outcomes that can be achieved through collaboration, or the associated determinants of success. In this multiple case study, knowledge production is analysed in a collaborative water allocation planning process in South Australia. A theoretical framework was developed and used to systematically evaluate and compare knowledge-related processes and outcome criteria across four planning catchments. Data sources included 62 semi-structured interviews, documents and personal observations. Most of the theorised outcomes were achieved across the cases; however, only one case had generated widespread acceptance among participants of the knowledge that was used to develop the water allocation plan. Comparing processes across the cases revealed key factors that influenced their outcomes. Ultimately, community participants across the cases had limited involvement in technical investigations, suggesting the need to re-examine expectations about the potential for joint fact-finding within collaborative processes that are limited in scope and duration and nested within broader state-driven processes.

KEYWORDS: Collaborative governance, knowledge production, water allocation planning, South Australia