Decision-Making in Water Governance: From Conflicting Interests to Shared Values

  • Klara PigmansEmail author
  • Neelke Doorn
  • Huib Aldewereld
  • Virginia Dignum


The development of water infrastructure is a long and complex process that involves multiple stakeholders, multiple scales, various sub-systems and relations of dependence among stakeholders. Stakeholder participation is increasingly seen as an indispensable element of water policymaking. The failure to address stakeholders’ underlying values, however, may create or exacerbate conflicts. In this chapter, we address the difficulty of approaching stakeholder participation in terms of conflicting interests. We illustrate this with an urban flood prevention case, followed by a categorisation of the difficulties presented by such processes. Instead of pursuing an interest-oriented approach, we suggest taking a step back in order to discern the influence of differing conceptions of shared values on multi-stakeholder decision-making processes. The goal of this chapter is to achieve a better understanding of the difficulties entailed in interest-driven decision-making processes in water governance, and how it could be beneficial to pursue a value-sensitive approach in such situations.



We want to thank the reviewers for their constructive and critical feedback, which helped us to sharpen the focus of this chapter. Moreover, we would like to thank Waterschap De Dommel for the case material. This work forms part of the Values4Water project, subsidised by the Responsible Innovation research programme, which is partly financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) under Grant Number 313-99-316. The work of Neelke Doorn is supported by the NWO under Grant Number 016-144-071.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klara Pigmans
    • 1
    Email author
  • Neelke Doorn
    • 1
  • Huib Aldewereld
    • 1
  • Virginia Dignum
    • 1
  1. 1.Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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