A New Hope – the research question in its latest form

One week to go before I defend my research proposal (August 19th, 2pm!), and my research question is finally (for now) in a stable state. Though, the stability of the question(s) must be taken with a grain of salt, given the iterative nature of research. What is most certain is that nothing is certain – a page from the climate change literature, but certainly applicable for my situation (and for many other researchers as well). What we plan to do today, can (and will likely) change tomorrow. And, as it should! To stick to your original research plan in the face of new information, evidence, insight, and new opportunities, would be irresponsible. So, with these considerations in mind, the latest iteration of my research question is…..

  • Are local actors influencing transboundary water governance processes?
  • If so, what are the characteristics of this influence?
  • Under what conditions does local actor involvement in transboundary water governance processes result in resilient and sustainable governance outcomes?
  • What inferences can be made about the role institutions play in providing local actors opportunity for influence in transboundary water governance processes?

I do not look to these four bullets as separate questions, but situated within a nested relationship to one another. They build off of, and directly relate to one another. They leave open the possibility for my research to take many interesting avenues, and for some very interesting potential results and policy implications to be discovered.

Looking back over the past versions of my research question, starting in June 2014, i’ve shifted from a focus on cities/urban actors, governance networks, and urban water interests, to a broader focus on local actors. Yet, throughout all versions, i’ve kept with the core theme of ‘influence’. This core interest on influence, and the role played by non-central state actors, is important to my research interests (or so it seems). The multi-level, diverse, and complex nature of water governance is inherently interesting to me. Add in issues of institution formation, goals of resilience and sustainability, and i’ve got myself some interesting directions to take!

So, before the defence next week, I’ll put together my presentation, practice it, refine, refine, refine, practice some more, and walk into the room on the 19th ready for an engaging discussion with a very supportive committee and supervisor.


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