This article explores the argument that an analytical differentiation between governance and management of irrigation systems can be a useful tool; focussing on management type provides a new perspective. It is possible to distinguish between cases of self-governance where irrigators carry out all tasks with reference to local knowledge and the alternative extreme, consisting of cases of self-governance where all management is carried out by hired professional staff. Besides this, bureaucratic and technocratic management is found in irrigation systems with diverse loci of authority (state and self-governance). It is further proposed that; whereas the self-governance of irrigation systems appears not to be restricted by the size of the system, a non-bureaucratic management, without specialized staff will be restricted because of this factor. However, it is argued that governance and management interact in such a way that the decentralization of governance may act as a strategy for avoiding or reducing bureaucratic management.

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