This paper aims to explore the perception of applying public participation practices in Jordan in the water management context. It uses grounded theory methodology to understand how the concept of public participation is perceived by different stakeholders and how it is affecting the currently applied participation practices. The data used in this study were collected through face-to-face interviews with key water experts and specialists working in the water sector in Jordan, including experts working for governmental and non-governmental institutions. The findings of this study showed that there is a distinct difference in the perception of public participation between two groups; the ‘officials’ and ‘non-officials’, which in turn has influenced other aspects of participation, mainly the objectives and preferred type of participation, justification for implementing the participation and the characterization of currently applied participation practices.