Where is the Safe Water? Capturing the Missing Explanation in Inter-Country Variation in Access

dc.contributor.advisorPosner, Paul
dc.contributor.authorRyu, Shin Kue
dc.creatorRyu, Shin Kue
dc.description.abstractAccess to safe drinking water is an outstanding worldwide challenge with 663 million people living without its access as of 2015. The magnitude of the outstanding challenge varies by country. A variation that is perplexing, knowing engineering and financial solutions are established, abound, and accessible. This research investigates to what extent political and institutional variables matter. First, it employs path analysis and examines whether a statistical explanation is sufficient in explaining the variation. Second, it corroborates the previous analysis with in-country interviews with sector experts. The latter’s importance resting on the identification of crucial intervening variables and further clarification in conceptualization of the set of variables under examination in the research. By employing quantitative and qualitative methods side-by-side, the research reaches three methodological implications and three theoretical implications. On methodology, we find detailed conceptualization matters when studying the variation for a multidimensional dependent variable. Without properly unpacking the variable, researcher bias on observations tend to drive towards easily falsifiable associative conclusions. Second, when path-dependent intervening variables are missing from the data set, statistical findings carry an inherent blind spot that persist to be unnoticed without complementary in-depth process-tracing case study. Third, the research opens the discussion on how best to incorporate “path-dependent variables” in comparative country studies, especially when the complexity of sequential nature makes them difficult for comparison; a methodological question that is linked with the generalizability of policy design and implementation studies. As for theoretical implications, the research contributes to three streams of academic research. First, the research opens the discussion on how well implementation theories rooted in Anglo-American history fit in the context of Asia. The findings demonstrate limitations in their generalizability due to different historical trajectories and their implications on institutional growth. Second, the research contributes to the state literature by unpacking the state. To what extent does the state matter to delivering a democratic outcome of universal access to water is explored. Lastly, the research contributes to theory by working towards a combined model of state and implementation to better capture the nexus of state development and international forces. Given the modus operandi of multilateral financial institutions are identical, the question becomes why do we see variation in loan performances between different countries. The question leads us into examining how the state absorbs the influences of “external forces”. In conclusion, the methodological and theoretical implications arose in the process of finding a valid and reliable explanation behind the variation of interest. The layered complexity that arose as byproduct of the research is hopefully insightful in demonstrating why we have few convincing answers to such an important social science question.
dc.format.extent397 pages
dc.rightsCopyright 2016 Shin Kue Ryu
dc.subjectPolitical science
dc.subjectPublic administration
dc.subjectPublic policy
dc.subjectSouth Korea
dc.titleWhere is the Safe Water? Capturing the Missing Explanation in Inter-Country Variation in Access
thesis.degree.disciplinePolitical Science
thesis.degree.grantorGeorge Mason University


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