Policy change & learning in Spanish groundwater policy : case studies on collective action in Castilla La Mancha
The thesis is concerned with the analysis of policy change and learning related to collective action of common pool resources. A comparative case study was carried out on three Spanish aquifers, located in the central region of Castilla La Mancha: the Western Mancha, Campo de Montiel and Eastern Mancha aquifers.
The research has focused on two main questions: first, the role ideas and paradigms play in policy change and learning; and second, whether this policy change and learning has led to collective action. For the first research question, the thesis chose a theory- the Advocacy Coalition Framework (or ACF) - that focuses on the argumentative aspects of policy, by looking at how cognitive factors and persuasion influenced policy change and learning. The main results indicated that, contrary to what the ACF suggests, changes in deep core beliefs are possible. However, the concept of paradigm shift better explains a process of social change rather than a change in deep core ideas. Results, however do confirm that the ACF is correct in stating that processes of policy change and learning need external events to take place. However, changes in policy are not only the result of external events and ideas, it is also due to interests of different stakeholders, which create coalitions of convenience and exploit ‘windows of opportunity’.
For the second research question the thesis used the Institutional Analysis and Development theory (or IAD). The thesis analysed a series of factors that, if present, will enhance the possibility of mutually beneficial collective action. The factors were used as an a posteriori ‘diagnostic tool’, on the case study areas and there was evidence of different levels of collective action. This factor analysis was complemented by the introduction of the concept of social capital. Social capital explains why in some case the factors for collective action are present, whilst in other cases collective action has been difficult.