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Icon for: Joseph Hamm


University of Nebraska at Lincoln


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Understanding Intention to Comply with Water Allocation Decisions

Water management is a complicated and important issue. Recent shifts in governance require regulators to consider concerns of stakeholders in managing water. Irrigators are a particularly important stakeholder group because of its large and growing percentage of the human water use. Increasingly therefore, no matter how good a regulatory scheme is, its success necessarily relies heavily upon the compliance of irrigators. The current study applies two social-science theories of compliance, trust in institutions and procedural fairness, to a governance context in order shed light on the influences of compliance with water allocations. Participants (86 students) were asked to read a scenario in which they assumed the role of an irrigating farmer. Confidence in, evaluations of the fairness of the procedures used by the water regulator, as well as the participant’s propensity to trust were measured along with intention to comply with two different water allocations. Specifically, the participant was first presented with a likely allocation about which he or she knew little. The second decision presented more information such that participants saw an allocation that was either consistent or inconsistent with data presented earlier and either positive or negative for them. Results indicated that intent to comply with the first allocation was influenced by the propensity to trust generally. However, when the participant knew more about the allocation and it was consistent with the data trust had a positive effect and procedural justice a negative. When inconsistent, trust has a negative effect and procedural justice a positive. Implications are discussed.