Water Resources Management

, Volume 29, Issue 14, pp 4945–4961 | Cite as

Scaling up of Policy Experiments and Pilots: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Lessons for the Water Sector

  • Sreeja Nair
  • Michael HowlettEmail author


The use of experimentation by practitioners and resource managers as a policy instrument for effective policy design under complex and dynamic conditions has been well-acknowledged both in theory and practice. For issues such as water resource management, policy experimentation, especially pilot projects, can play an important role in exploring alternate courses of action when faced with long-term uncertainty. While the political aspects of experimentation design and outcomes have been alluded to by several policy scholars, there is lack of empirical evidence that explores their interplay with other factors that may also be critical for scaling up of policy experiments. This paper examines experiences with scaling up of different types of water policy experiments through a Qualitative Comparative Analysis of fifteen pilot initiatives in multiple sectors. Presence of political support is found to be necessary for scaling up in 97 % of the cases studied, followed closely by the need for synergies with ongoing policies and programmes. When in combination with effective pilot planning and strong monitoring and evaluation, both these factors create a sufficient condition for successful scaling up in nearly 60 % of the cases studied.


Policy experiments Policy pilots Scaling up Water policy Water management Policy formulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LKY School of Public PolicyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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