Inderscience Publishers

Water service governance, technological change and paradigm shifts: a conceptual framework

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This article offers a conceptual framework of the social factors enabling and inhibiting paradigm shifts in urban water supply and sanitation. We understand paradigm shifts as radical changes in the metabolism of urban water services, whereby change is informed by a distinct ethos. We reframe paradigm shifts as the function of two factors: 1) the agency of paradigm advocacy; 2) the institutional legitimacy of competing paradigms, which defines the landscape of opportunities for paradigm advocacy. Multigroup assessments of the social desirability and sustainability of competing paradigms are made in light of aspirations to normative coherence under conditions of bounded rationality. Finally, we suggest directions for further inquiry.

Keywords: water governance, urban water services, sustainability, integrated water management, integrated urban water management, IUWM, paradigm shifts, conceptual framework, advocacy coalitions, technological change, transitioning, policy diffusion, socio–technical transformations, agency, institutional legitimacy, normative coherence, social factors, sanitation, competing paradigms, sustainable development

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