Changing the ways of (managing) water:
Changing knowledge development and use for reflexively designing regional Integrated Water Management plans

My research project aims to answer the questions: How do we need to develop, use and organize ‘old’ and ‘new’ knowledge claims for being able to deal with the challenge of designing reflexive practices? What can we learn in this regard from the way the Dutch Water Boards have implemented Integrated Water Management (IWM) in the period between 1970 and 2000, and their concurrent reorganizations of processes of knowledge development and use?

Theoretically, my work rests on the notion of reflexivity. This notion originates in the work of Ulrich Beck and has been elaborated upon in terms of designing technologies by Grin, Felix & Bos (2004). Empirically, I take up my research questions in the domain of Dutch regional water management in the period 1970-2000.

The introduction of a new way of managing water in the Netherlands in the period of 1970-2000 can -up to a certain extent- be seen as a ‘reflexive turn’. Due to this ‘reflexive turn’, also the leading knowledge paradigms in water management changed.

Much research that has been done on how IWM was implemented focused on a national or provincial level (Boogerd, 2005; Disco, 2002; Ham, 1999; Wisserhof, 1994). I am researching how the leading paradigms of the knowledge developed and used have changed on a regional, rural level; i.e. the level of the Water Boards.

During this presentation, I will shortly go into the background of my research project. Then I describe how the introduction of IWM lead to the changing of the knowledge bases developed and used, and the following reorganizations of the knowledge infrastructure, in the case of Water Board ‘Regge en Dinkel’.


Boogerd, J. L. M. (2005). Van droge kennis naar natte natuur: De interactie tussen

natuurwetenschap en beleid over verdroging (pp. IX, 173). Delft: Eburon. Disco, C. (2002). Remaking "Nature": The Ecological Turn in Dutch Water

Management, Science, technology, & human values (Vol. 27, pp. 206-23 5). Grin, J., Felix, F., & Bos, B. (2004). Practices for Reflexive Design: Lessons from a

Dutch programme on sustainable agriculture. Int. J. Foresight and Innovation

Policy, 1(1/2), 126-149.

Ham, W. v. d. (1999). Heersen en beheersen Rijkswaterstaat in de twintigste eeuw, Tevens proefschrift Technische Universiteit Delft. (pp. 413). Zaltbommel: Europese Bibliotheek.

Wisserhof, J. (1994). Matching research and policy in integrated water management, Proefschrift Technische Universiteit Delft. (pp. 215). Delft: Delft University Press.