Araral, Eduardo, Alberto Asquer, & Yahua Wang (2017). Regulatory constructivism: Application of Q methodology in Italy and China. Water Resources Management: An International Journal, 31(8), 2497-2521.

Abstract: Conventional view holds that beliefs play an important role in the development of regulations but there is little evidence to support this claim. We use Comparative Q Methodology to systematically map out and compare the beliefs of public officers in China and Italy, two countries with contrasting sets of institutions but have both adopted similar ideas about integrated water resource management. We find some similarities and differences in the beliefs of public officers in both countries. In particular, we find that in both countries beliefs on the regulation of water utilities are diverse and fragmented on issues such as ownership structure of water utilities, how water infrastructure development should be funded, and how tariffs should be regulated. Our findings have two implications for theory, methods and practice. First, the Q methodology is a useful tool for systematically mapping out the beliefs of regulators and managers. Second, systematically mapping out beliefs will help facilitate the development of an alternative regime of regulation such as negotiated rule making. This alternative regime can provide substantial benefits such as more efficient rule making, more cost effective enforcement and compliance, and more equitable in terms of balancing the interests of stakeholders.

Alberto Asquer <aa144@soas.ac.uk> is Director, Center for Water and Development, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK.

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