Table 1 shows the structure elements in the institutional and socio-cultural domain that are used in the ISA-framework. The institutional domain encompasses the following structure elements: responsibilities (of actors), legal norms, legislation, policy plans and budgets. These are typically formal structures, which can be traced back to official documents. They organize formal social interaction. The socio-cultural domain is divided into three subdomains: the social, the economic and the knowledge subdomains. In the social subdomain, belief systems and awareness are considered. Belief systems refer to the underlying values, paradigms and discourses that are dominant in the sector. These beliefs determine to a large extent how problems and solutions are understood and framed (Van der Brugge 2009). Belief systems are powerful, because they might lead to the exclusion of new approaches that are outside the dominant perspective. Awareness refers to the familiarity of the local residential community with regard to water related issues. Public awareness influences the acceptance of solutions, but also the exposure to risks. The economic subdomain considers the ‘economic identity’ of a region. An important structuring element is land use (exploitation), which supports and constrains the economic activities and possibilities in a region. A second structure element to be considered is what we refer to as ‘water logistic’, referring to the role and meaning of water management in a region, for instance, agricultural areas have huge fresh water requirements, while urbanized areas may require water management for shipping and safety. The knowledge domain considers the type of knowledge produced by research programs, available simulation software and the technological capabilities. These structure elements are related to what we know and how people are trained and thus indicate what we technically can or cannot do with regard to water management.

Table 1

Types of structures in the institutional and socio-cultural domains, illustrated with examples of the Dutch water sector

DomainStructuresExamples from the Dutch water sector
Institutional 
  • Responsibilities

  • Norms

  • Legislation

  • Policy plans

  • Budget

  • Procurement

 
  • Flood protection, water quality, freshwater distribution

  • Flood protection norms, water quality

  • Water Management Act, permits

  • National water plan, local water management plan, local water level agreements

  • National budget, regional budget, investment funds

  • Regulations, contracts

 
Social 
  • Belief systems

  • Awareness

 
  • Paradigms, values, discourses

  • Preferences, awareness, behavior, commitment, compliance

 
Economic 
  • Economic activity

  • Logistic

 
  • Farming, recreation, shipping, industry, etc.

  • Supply and demand, transport, transfer nodes

 
Knowledge 
  • Research programs

  • Simulation/forecasting software

  • Technology

 
  • Hydrology, civil engineering, governance, impact assessment, etc.

  • Hydrological models, decision support tools, cost benefit, etc.

  • Machines, techniques, materials, constructions

 
DomainStructuresExamples from the Dutch water sector
Institutional 
  • Responsibilities

  • Norms

  • Legislation

  • Policy plans

  • Budget

  • Procurement

 
  • Flood protection, water quality, freshwater distribution

  • Flood protection norms, water quality

  • Water Management Act, permits

  • National water plan, local water management plan, local water level agreements

  • National budget, regional budget, investment funds

  • Regulations, contracts

 
Social 
  • Belief systems

  • Awareness

 
  • Paradigms, values, discourses

  • Preferences, awareness, behavior, commitment, compliance

 
Economic 
  • Economic activity

  • Logistic

 
  • Farming, recreation, shipping, industry, etc.

  • Supply and demand, transport, transfer nodes

 
Knowledge 
  • Research programs

  • Simulation/forecasting software

  • Technology

 
  • Hydrology, civil engineering, governance, impact assessment, etc.

  • Hydrological models, decision support tools, cost benefit, etc.

  • Machines, techniques, materials, constructions

 

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