Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Case Studies - Decision-making in 29 cities and national contexts

Analytical narratives were produced of decision-making processes concerning water in 29 cities in 13 countries across Europe. An overall study on the international context was produced, in order to identify the presence and activity common to the countries; national context reports were produced for each country, in order to identify structural and political and economic factors relevant to the cities in each country.

The 29 cities and 13 countries covered are (with group of country identified: N(orth), S(outh), A(ccession)):

Estonia A Tallinn
Finland N Hameenlinna, Tampere
France N Grenoble
Germany N Berlin, Munich
Hungary A Budapest, Debrecen, Szeged
Italy S Arezzo, Bologna, Milan, Rome,
Lithuania A Kaunas, Vilnius
Netherlands N Rotterdam
Poland A Gdansk, Lodz, Warsaw
Romania A Bucharest, Timisoara
Spain S Cordoba; Madrid; Mancomunidad del Sureste de Gran Canaria; Palma de Mallorca;
Sweden N Stockholm
UK N Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds

The selection of cases was based on the objective of generating analytical narratives identifying an important process or mechanism.

The international context identified key sets of international actors whose influence ranged across countries. The broad categories identified were European institutions, multinational companies, and other international institutions, notably the World Bank. The impact of EU policies on the process has been not only through the impact on standards of the water-specific legislation and directives, but also through a set of requirements in these directives and other policies which have the effect of encouraging trends towards privatization, liberalisation and commercialization of urban water supply systems.

The 29 case studies themselves provide information on the interaction between a range of PESTE factors, at various levels, on the parties and processes involved in decision-making, including the constraints on decisions and objectives of decision-makers, so that the pattern of these interactions to guide future decision-makers.

In each case study an outcome or outcomes are identified (mathematically, a dependent variable), and the case outcomes are explained in a common way. The tool used by Watertime to explain the decision process is the narrative of the process by which the decision that produces the change occurred. The narrative is organized around key events within the episode. The events initiation and termination as well as their internal dynamic are explored in a similar way in order to allow further comparisons. The events are the unit of analysis which allows identification of the PESTE factors, actors, their characteristics and role, as well as the participation and sustainability issues.

The analysis of decision-making in the case studies used the following key dimensions:
- Actors
- Factors
- Participation
- Time

The case studies identify clearly the key actors and factors, and the extent of public participation and transparency, in each of the cities, for a number of different episodes.

Actors are treated as discrete individual, corporate, or collective social units, including groups, departments within a corporation, public service agencies in a city, or nation-states in the world system. The range of actors in each case identifies the sources of major influence on the decision-making process. The factors influencing events are analysed according to the PESTE framework, a classic subject checklist which constitute the traditional approach for monitoring external trends and shocks: Political factors, Economic factors, Social factors, Technological factors, and Environmental factors.

The results show some interesting patterns: for example, in the transition and accession countries of Eastern Europe, international actors played a very significant role: in the cities of the EU15 countries, local and regional actors were dominant.

The factors identified in the various episodes varied according the type of issue being addressed in the decision-making episode. In most episodes, the issues concerned some form of possible change towards privatization or involvement of the private sector, The factors favouring privatization or the use of PPPs were dominated by political and ideological factors, followed by economic and financial and to a lesser extent technical-environmental or organizational. Factors militating against privatization were predominantly economic-financial and policy-organisational, and to a lesser extent political-ideological.

Reported by

Business School, University of Greenwich, Park Row
SE10 9LS London
United Kingdom
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