Lead


Lay summary
The goal of this project is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different governance and organizational forms in the Swiss, German and British water sectors. In addition, the study seeks to identify and theoretically explain the causal mechanisms of governance's transformation in the water sector. Accordingly, we propose the following goals: 1. A performance assessment of various governance and organizational forms in the water sector via an analytical framework with three evaluative criteria: legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency. 2. The development of hypotheses regarding the change in governance and the possible causal mechanisms. In order to evaluate whether (and to what extent) the formulated predictions may be true, the hypotheses are tested by applying empirical data. 3. In light of the theoretical considerations and the comparison with empirical findings, we aim to draw conclusions regarding how the transformation of governance affects the provision of a public service like water. In recent years the transformation of the state has received much attention in political science. The displacement of traditional, state-centered policies with non-hierarchical forms of coordination between political, economic and civil societal actors has initiated abundant research questions. Such research is concerned with theoretically supported understandings and explanations of the transformation's causality as well as systematic and comparative empirical studies. The term "governance" is increasingly used in the social sciences as a concept to research processes of change and new modes of coordination between public and private actors. This research addresses highly relevant questions in infrastructure policy: namely, how is a public service constituted, governed and organized? A gateway into this field is the restructuring of infrastructure sectors - with ensuing new forms of governance - through liberalization in recent years. Given this context, we choose Switzerland, Germany and Great Britain as our cases because each country has taken varying approaches to (re-)structuring their water sector. While Great Britain has undergone a major reform in the provision of public services, Germany may be perceived as a moderate example of a transformative effect. Switzerland serves as an example of no drastic shift in the states' role. While the methods are primarily qualitative (e.g., document analysis and expert interviews), they are complemented with quantitative means (e.g., analysis of databases). In the theoretical approach, we aim to develop an analytical framework that then serves as a template for empirical analysis.