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In sub-national governments, elected public officers can exercise considerable influence on the regulation of local water services, in such ways as, for example, contributing to the design of local regulatory institutions, to the formulation of tariff rules, and to the supervision of water firms. Relatively little we know, however, about how elected public officers think about the regulation of local water services. This Q methodology study provides some evidence of the variety of opinions held on how local water services are delivered, how well they perform, and how they should be regulated among elected public officers in local governments in Italy. The study shows that the policy discourse on water regulation in Italy is highly fragmented into alternative and partially conflicting views. These findings bear some relevance for better understanding sources of stability and change of water regulatory regimes at the local level.


Water regulation; elected public officers; operant subjectivity; Q methodology