The Added value of understanding informal social networks in an adaptive capacity assessment

explorations of an urban water management system in Indonesia

Silva Larson, Kim S. Alexander, Riyanti Djalante, Dewi G. C. Kirono

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Social networks play an important role in environmental governance regimes, and they are a key to the adaptive capacity of systems that deal with complex, contextual and multi-faceted issues. Urban water systems are typical examples of complex systems facing many pressures, such as increased population, water quality deterioration, and climate change. This paper explores social networks of the key stakeholders engaged in urban water management, in Makassar City, Indonesia, in the context of exploring ways to improve management of an increasingly complex urban water system. Three social networks were explored; those constituted by formal and informal interactions and networks perceived by stakeholders to be "ideal". Formal networks were identified through an examination of the legislative instruments and government agencies' documents relating to water provision in Makassar, while the informal and "ideal" networks were investigated in collaboration with the stakeholders. The research found that the informal social network was more extensive than were the formally required networks, and the investigation of informal networks created a potentially more robust and adaptive water management system than would have occurred through inclusion of formal institutional arrangements. We suggest that in examination of the adaptive capacity of an urban water system, one also considers the informal arrangements and linkages, as this additional information about the system is necessary to enhance our understanding of potential adaptation of water management and improved urban water systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4425-4441
    Number of pages17
    JournalWater Resources Management
    Issue number13
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Adaptive capacity
    • Complex adaptive systems
    • Institutional arrangements
    • Integrated urban water management (IUWM)
    • Makassar
    • Perceptions of water system

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