Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Dahlberg

Second Advisor

Dr. Murray Scot Tanner

Third Advisor

Dr. Gunther Hega

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Chansheng He


Throughout human history water has been a key determinant for national development and human welfare. Existing river basin management (RBM) institutions and practices in China are incapable of fully meeting current needs. much less the challenges of sustainable development. Conceptual and institutional reforms will be needed to meet these challenges. New interdisciplinary thinking about the complex interactions between ecological. socio-economic and technological systems is reviewed to provide an ecosystemic perspective on RBM problems. An analytical framework which is interdisciplinary. systemic. historical. and comparative is then employed to focus on the institutional aspects of RBM regimes and their etlects on natural-human interactions. Two Chinese national river basins--the Yellow River and the Huaihe River--are chosen as case studies to highlight certain common patterns of the RBA1 problematique as observed over time.

The research concludes that

1. SRBM is of vital importance to the success of China's ongoing reforms and her sustainable future. In spite of recent and significant reforms in China's RBM the complex task of recasting China's water management within a sustainable format still has a long way to go.

2. This is because water problems are becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. They also involve an increasing number and diversity of interlinked systems. An ecosystemic perspective and adaptive management strategy involving interdisciplinary research modes. multi-criteria decision-making frameworks. and a SRBM informational framework will be required to cope with these problems.

3. The key challenge tor SRBM institutions will be to match and integrate the RBM institutions with the long-term. different level socio-ecological dynamics of China's many different scale river basins.

4. This will require not only an integrated understanding of how RBM institutions coevolve with basin ecosystems. but also integrated management institutions to overcome the current multifaceted fragmentation of RBM. which constitutes a major institutional barrier to SRBM.

5. For these to emerge both political will and SRBM institutional capacity will be needed.

6. Geographic Information Systems (GlS) offer a potential technical means to enhance SRBM instituuonal capacity.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access