Factors influencing the adoption of adaptive policy by water utilities

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Abstract

Over recent decades there have been advances in the research behind adaptive policy approaches. More recently, emerging qualitative approaches for managing deep uncertainty has drawn the attention of planners in the water industry, particularly in water utilities. Despite interest from both the water industry and the research community to see these novel approaches applied, there have been limited applications and no published guidance to support the operationalisation of these approaches in water utilities. This thesis seeks to bridge this gap by answering the question: “What are the factors influencing the adoption of adaptive policy approaches by water utilities?” To answer this question, a design science approach was used to understand current barriers and enablers to the adoption of such methods in water utilities, and to design a framework to support adoption of adaptive approaches. This work was conducted through a grounded theory analysis of interviews of relevant water utility practitioners in Australia and the Netherlands and members of the decision making under deep uncertainty and adaptive planning research community internationally. The outcome of this study is a maturity framework of barriers and enablers to the uptake of adaptive approaches in water utilities, designed to support utilities and researchers in evaluating their level of adoption and to identify strategies for increasing the implementation of adaptive approaches where appropriate.