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Are generic and specific adaptation institutions always relevant? An archetype analysis of drought adaptation in Spanish irrigation systems

Sergio Villamayor-Tomas, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), Barcelona, Spain
Irene Iniesta-Arandia, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), Barcelona, Spain; FRACTAL Collective, Madrid, Spain
Matteo Roggero, Resource Economics Group, Humboldt-Universitšt zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany


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The conditions that contribute to institutional robustness of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) regimes are well understood; however, there is much less systematic evidence regarding whether and how CBNRM regimes adapt to changing environments. We address this question by exploring drought adaptation of 37 irrigation associations in northern Spain. For this purpose, we adopt the distinction between “generic” and “specific adaptation institutions” and explore whether and how these institutions combine across different types of irrigation systems. We obtained data from a survey delivered to the 37 associations, governmental records, and interviews with representatives of the associations and public officials. We then used hierarchical cluster analysis to classify the irrigation systems into types, followed by qualitative comparative analysis to explore associations between the adaptation institutions and drought adaptation across the types of systems. According our results, CBNRM regimes adapt to droughts through different combinations of institutions (i.e., different paths to drought adaptation). However, specific adaptation institutions such as water transfers are more relevant during droughts (i.e., to allocate scarcity), whereas generic adaptation institutions such as monitoring and collective choice arrangements play a role both during and in the aftermath of droughts (i.e., to build compliance with and redesign specific adaptation institutions). Also, we did not find an alignment between the two types of institutions and types of irrigation system; however, one type of system (i.e., the “Asian” type) shows a larger number of drought adaptation paths than the other (i.e., the “American” type).

Key words

adaptation; archetype analysis; common-pool resources; drought; hierarchical cluster analysis; irrigation; qualitative comparative analysis; water user associations

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087