Individuals’ Knowledge and Behaviour in Water Governance: An Israeli Case Study of Female Water Research and Policy Professionals
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Many social sciences recognize tacit knowledge, including its contextual and affective sources, as instrumental to professionals’ decision-making and behaviour. Utilization of individuals’ tacit knowledge was an identified gap in water governance research, given its implementation challenges. Solutions to improve performance focus on group dynamics and consensus making but exclude the psychological micro-perspective on how individuals biologically make decisions and the underlying variables that influence those decisions. This study drew upon environmental psychology and knowledge management literature to address the theoretical gap. An Israeli case study enabled exploration into how water research and policy (WRP) professionals think about water and the influence that had on their professional behaviours. The study used interviewing (May-July 2012, n=24) and autoethnography as methods to collect person-focused data, which was interpreted using indicators from pro-environmental behaviour models and a thematic analysis approach. Two dominant themes emerged that influenced professional behaviour: a norm to subscribe to a water scarcity ethic and a perceived expectation to contribute to society. The themes promoted morally aligned career commitment, for which supporting literature on affective commitment demonstrates improved knowledge sharing and motivation amongst professionals. They also perpetuated a constrained national water agenda and internal value conflicts for the professionals, creating both behavioural barriers and motivators. The paper concludes with theoretical and practical observations. It recommends Israel’s WRP community would benefit from incorporating individuals’ tacit knowledge in the following ways: a) to diminish entrenched decision-making; b) to improve interdisciplinary networks and training; c) to promote women managers; and d) to better harness professionals’ performance potential.