dr. Farhad Mukhtarov
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Dr. Farhad Mukhtarov is a public policy scholar specialized in studying water resources and the environment. He has over 10 years of research experience and has worked in Azerbaijan, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Hungary and Singapore. His work has appeared in numerous international peer-reviewed journals including Environmental Science & Policy, Policy Sciences, Global Governance, Globalizations, and Policy & Politics and edited volumes with major university presses, such as the Oxford University Press. 

Dr. Mukhtarov is currently a Researcher at Environmental Governance Group, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, The Netherlands; an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; and a Research Fellow at the Earth System Governance Alliance. Farhad received his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences and Policy (magna cum laude) from Central European University (Budapest) in 2009. In 2007-2008, Dr. Mukhtarov served as a CEU/FCO Chevening Scholar at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment.

Strategic themes / Focus areas
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Curriculum vitae Download PDF
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Books and Special Issues of Journals

Special Issue “Crafting or designing? Science, politics and conditions determining processes of intended institutional change for Social-Ecological Systems”. Environmental Science and Policy, 2015. Co-edited with Thiel, A., and Zikos, D.

Mukhtarov, F. (2008) The prospects of privatization of water supply services: with focus on private sector participation in water supply and sanitation sector in secondary towns of Azerbaijan. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Muller.

Refereed Journal Articles

Mukhtarov, F., Pierce, R. and Gerlak, A. (2016) Away from fossil-fuels and toward a bioeconomy: knowledge versatility for public policy? Environment and Planning C. Online.

Mukhtarov, F., de Jong, M. and Pierce, R. (2016) Doing ethnography of policy translation: ethical and practical challenges and strategies to overcome them. Environment and Planning A. Online.

Mukhtarov, F. (2016) Policies on the move: Translation, assemblages and ethnography. Book review essay. Environment and Planning C. Online.

Gerlak, A., and Mukhtarov, F. (2016) Many faces of security: discursive framing in cross-border natural resource governance in the Mekong River Commission. Globalizations, 13 (6).

Thiel, A., Mukhtarov, F. and Zikos, D. (2015) Crafting or designing? Science, politics and conditions determining processes of intended institutional change for Social-Ecological Systems. Environmental Science and Policy, 53: 81-86.

Mukhtarov, F., Fox, S., Mukhamedova, N., and Wegerich, K. (2015) Institutional design in the face of contextual relevance: water user associations in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Environmental Science and Policy, 53: 206-214.

Gerlak, A. and Mukhtarov, F. (2015) ‘Ways of knowing water’: integrated water resources management and water security as complementing discourses. International Negotiations and Environmental Agreements (INEA). Available online: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10784-015-9278-5.

Mukhtarov, F. (2014) Rethinking the travel of ideas: policy translation in the water sector. Policy and Politics, 42 (1): 71-88.

Mukhtarov, F. and Gerlak, A. (2014) Epistemic forms of integrated water resources management: towards versatility of knowledge. Policy Sciences, 47 (2): 101-120.

Mukhtarov, F., Osseweijer, P., and Pierce, R. (2014) The global governance of biofuels: case for private governance? Bio-based and Applied Economics, 3 (3): 101-110.

Mukhtarov, F. and Gerlak, A. (2013) River basin organizations in the global water discourse: an exploration of agency and strategy. Global Governance, 19 (2): 307-326.

Mukhtarov, F., Brock, A., Janssen, S., and Guigner, A. (2013) Actors and strategies in translating global conservation narratives to Vietnam. Policy and Society, 32 (2): 113-124.

Refereed Bibliography Entries

Mukhtarov, F., and Cherp, A. (2015) Water security. Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford University Press. Online.

Cherp, A. and Mukhtarov, F. (2015) Energy security. Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford University Press. Online.

Book Chapters

Mukhtarov, F. and Daniell, K. (2017). Translation, diffusion and adaptation of water policy models. In Ken Conca and Erika Weindthal, Editors, Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy, Oxford University Press.

Mukhtarov, F. and Cherp, A. (2014) The Hegemony and contextual governance: integrated water resources management and global water discourse. In Daniell, K. et al. (Eds), River Basin Management in Twenty-First Century: Understanding People and Places, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, London, forthcoming, pp. 3-21.

Mukhtarov, F. (2013) Translating water policy innovations into Kazakhstan: the importance of context. In Vinke de Kruijf et al. (Eds), Water Governance, Policy and Knowledge Transfer: International Studies on Contextual Water Management, Earthscan: London, pp. 113-128.

Mukhtarov, F. (2008) Intellectual history and current status of integrated water resources management: a global perspective. In Pahl-Wostl, C., Kabat, P. & Möltgen, J. (Eds.) Adaptive and Integrated Water Management: Coping with Complexity and Uncertainty. Berlin: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp.167-185.

Mukhtarov, F. (2007) Privatization of social policy of water supply in the South Caucasus. In Social Policy and Regional Development. Zagreb: The Institute of Economics and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, pp. 91-115.

Manuscripts in Review

Thiel, A., and Mukhtarov, F. Institutional design for adaptive governance of natural resource governance: the role of agency and polycentricity. In “Sage Handbook of Nature”, Eds (Terry Marstden et al.), Sage.

Policy Reports and Media Appearances

Mukhtarov, F. (2015) Climate change strikes oil & gas industry: Tragedy in the Caspian Sea. Hurriyet Daily News, December 21, 2015. (Hurriyet Daily News is the Leading Turkish English Language Newspaper).

Mukhtarov, F., Huitema, D., Medvey, J., Kouwenhoven, R., Uribe, M., and Funke, N. (2011) Agency in Biodiversity Conservation: Park Decisions in Developing countries, International Meta-Trends and their Implementation. EC FP-7 LiveDiverse Project Background Report 2 for 6.2.

Mukhtarov, F. (2009) Integrated Water Resources Management: Global Water Collaborations on the Rise. Water World, online. URL: http://www.waterworld.com/articles/2009/08/integrated-water-resources.html

UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (2009) IWRM Implementation in Basins, Sub-basins and Aquifers: State of the Art Review. Contributor.

Mukhtarov, F. (2005) Review of the experience of using economic environmental policy instruments in Azerbaijan. The Caspian Panorama, (1): 17–19.

Papers Presented

2016    University of Potsdam, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Germany, 
Workshop on “Translation in World Politics”. Presentation “­­­­­­Policy Translation and Public Policy: Frameworks and Methods. Potsdam, 26-27 October

2016    Samarkand Conference on Regional and International Cooperation in Central Asia and South Caucasus: Recent Developments in Agricultural Trade. Samarkand Agricultural Institute with financial and technical support from IAMO and DAAD. “Theories of Collective Action for Agriculture: Review and Applicability in the Post-Soviet Context”. Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 2-5 November.

2016    Regional Conference on Public Policy, Hong Kong, China, June 10-11. “Global Water Governance: Neo-Gramscian Approach”, Panel “Multi-level Governance of Common Pool Resources”.

2016    Alumni Conference, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 5-7 May. “Emotions and Environmental Citizenship”.

2016    Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, “Persistence and Change of Institutions in Natural Resources Management in a post-Socialist context”. “Examining the ‘Policy Translation’ Lens for Understanding Water Sector Reform in Central Asia”. Berlin, 26-28 January.

2015    Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg, Workshop on "Translation in World Politics". Policy, mobility, translation: anecdotes from the periphery. Duisburg, Germany, 8-9 October.

2015    The 10th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference. Lille, France, July 08-10. Policy Implementation and the Mediating Action of Text. With Raul Lejano and Park Sung Yin.

2014    The 9th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference. Policy translation and the problem of context: challenges and opportunities. Wageningen, The Netherlands, 03-05 July. Co-authored with Raul Lejano.

2013    The 8th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference. Policy translation and ethnography: ethical challenges and strategies to overcome them. Vienna, Austria, 03-05 July. Co-authored with Martin de Jong and Robin Pierce.

2013    The Ethnography Symposium. Doing ethnography of policy translation: ethical challenges and strategies to overcome them. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 28-30 July. Co-authored with Martin de Jong and Robin Pierce.

2012    The 7th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference. Ways of knowing in the transition to a bio-Economy. Tilburg, The Netherlands, 05-07 July. Co-authored with Robin Pierce and Patricia Osseweijer.

2012    The Earth System Governance Conference. Agency and Path Dependency in Water User Associations in Azerbaijan. Lund, Sweden, April 18-20. Co-authored with Svenja Fox.

2012    The Hebrew University, International Workshop on Securitization of the Water Discourse. “Ways of Knowing Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Security as Complementary Discourses”. Jerusalem, Israel, December 17-19.

2011    The European Science Foundation Conference on “Water Governance: meeting the challenges of global change”. Policy Translation and the travel of ideas in the water sector. Obergurgl, Austria, June 05 -10.

2011    Azerbaijan Diplomacy Academy, the 5th Ph.D. Workshop. Policy entrepreneurs and strategies in policy change and stability in national park policy of Vietnam. Paris, France, June 11-13.

2011    The Earth System Governance Conference at Colorado State University. Policy translation in the water sector: a multi-level governance approach. Fort-Collins, USA, May 17-20.

2011    The Annual Conference of the International Association of the Study of the Commons Conference. Actors and Strategies in Biodiversity Policy in Vietnam: a Policy Entrepreneurship approach. Hyderabad, India, January.

2009    The Second Ph.D. Workshop on “Energy Security” at Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, Baku, Azerbaijan, December.

2009    The Annual Meeting, Society for Social Studies of Science (4S). Unravelling the global hegemony of IWRM. Washington DC, USA, November.

2007    The CAIWA First International Conference on Adaptive and Integrated Water Resources Management. Intellectual History and Current Status of Integrated Water Resources Management: a Global Perspective. Basel, Switzerland, November.

2007    The GRSC/GARNET International Conference on "Pathways to Legitimacy". University of Warwick. Global Water Governance and the Concept of Legitimacy. Coventry, September. Paper in the proceedings, did not attend the conference.

2007    The 5th Conference of the International Water History Association (IWHA). History and current status of integrated water resources management from a policy transfer perspective. Tampere, Finland, June 13-17.

2007    The 4th Conference on “Environmental History”, European Society for Environmental History, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, June 04-08.

2007    The Congress on River Basin Management, World Water Council, State Hydraulic Works of Turkey, Antalya, Turkey, March.

Posters Presented

2013    Be-Basic (Bio-based Ecologically Balanced Sustainable Industrial Chemistry), Research Symposium. “Ways of Knowing a Bio-economy”. Leiden, The Netherlands, 05-07 February.

2012    The European Science Foundation Conference “Towards a sustainable bio-society”. “Ways of knowing and the transition to a bio-economy”. Amsterdam, 6-7 December.

All publications
  2016 - Scholarly publications
Mukhtarov, F. (2016). Policies on the move: Translation, assemblages and ethnography. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Mukhtarov, Farhad, de Jong, Martin & Pierce, Robin (19.10.2016). Political and ethical aspects in the ethnography of policy translation: Research experiences from Turkey and China. Environment and Planning A 10.1177/0308518X16674935.
Mukhtarov, Farhad, Gerlak, Andrea & Pierce, Robin (28.10.2016). Away from fossil-fuels and toward a bioeconomy: Knowledge versatility for public policy?. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 10.1177/0263774X16676273.
  2016 - Other output
F. Mukhtarov (26.10.2016) Policy Translation and Public Policy: Frameworks and Methods. Presentation at the Workshop on “Translation in World Politics”, University of Potsdam, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Germany
F. Mukhtarov (02.11.2016) Theories of Collective Action for Agriculture: Review and Applicability in the Post-Soviet Context. Presentation at the Samarkand Conference on Regional and International Cooperation in Central Asia and South Caucasus: Recent Developments in Agricultural Trade. Samarkand Agricultural Institute with financial and technical support from IAMO and DAAD, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
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My research is focused on the intersection of public policy and the environment. Over the years, I have developed 4 major lines in my research:

1) Policy Translation. I am interested in how water policy innovations touch ground in new policy contexts. For example, in my Ph.D. project, I mapped out how Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been implemented in three different countries (England, Turkey and Kazakhstan) with different trajectories and outcomes. Currently, within the EU-funded POWER project at Utrecht University, I study how knowledge and information travel and translate across various borders and among various stakeholders in urban water governance, and how this process can be improved upon. 

2) Global Governance through Hegemony. I am interested in how global environmental and water policy narratives gain and maintain hegemony in policy and academic circles, and what this process means for the project of global governance. What are the mechanisms by which policy models become hegemonic? What is necessary for change in discursive hegemony to occur? What impacts do hegemonies have on realities on the ground? How is global governance linked to hegemony?

3) Knowledge Pluralism for Public Policy. I am interested in how policy-makers and public managers can make use of multiple ways of knowing in environmental governance. Scientific knowledge is only one, there is indigenous knowledge, knowledge based on rituals, practice and values. They all are valuable and need to be included in the policy-making process. A big question is how.

4) Emotions in Environmental Communication. I currently have a project on environmental communication and the role of emotions in changing environmental attitudes and promoting public engagement. The key goal here is to understand and employ emotions in changing environmental attitudes and behavior of people, or in creating environmental citizenship as reflective capacity of individuals to make sustainable choices when confronted with various options.

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of public policy and environmental governance. I would define my “home” discipline as policy sciences, and I borrow extensively from other social sciences. While I have a number of research interests, my major interest centers on how governance narratives and policy models travel across multiple contexts, and with what impacts on the ground.

In my Master of Sciences Thesis, which later resulted in a book chapter in 2007, I researched how the provision of urban water supply and sanitation in Azerbaijan could be privatized through an establishment of a public-private partnership. In my Ph.D. dissertation, I researched how Integrated Water Resources Management, a water governance concept, established a global hegemony in water management for most of the 20th century. Furthermore, I have researched the multiple translations of IWRM into contrasting policy contexts of England, Turkey and Kazakhstan. I used the neo-Gramscian theory in order to describe and explain the global discursive hegemony of IWRM sustained by various global networks. My research methods included archival research, qualitative document analysis and expert interviews with global water policy actors, as well as elite, expert and non-expert interviews, document analysis and non-participant observations in all three case countries.

In contrast to other scholars, I demonstrated that IWRM represents very different functions in England (evidence-based framework for urban flood risk management), in Turkey (meta-narrative of sustainable development), and in Kazakhstan (reincarnation of a Soviet-time technique of comprehensive rational planning). The thesis undermined the conventionally held notions of policy transfer and policy diffusion commonly applied to IWRM, and argued instead for policy translation, the process in which policy models travel across various boundaries and change as a result. From this research, I published a well cited article in Policy & Politics (cited 29 times in Google Scholar in about 2 years) and two book chapters titled The hegemony of integrated water resources management as a global discourse (co-authored) and Translating water policy innovations into Kazakhstan: the importance of context. A co-authored chapter on “Transfer, diffusion, adaptation and translation of water policy models across countries has appeared in the Oxford Handbook of Water Policy and Politics in 2016 (online) and will appear in print in 2017.

In my first post-doctoral project at the Institute for Environment Studies at VU University Amsterdam, I worked for a European Union funded project “LiveDiverse: Livelihoods and Conservation in Developing Countries”. I conducted fieldwork in Vietnam studying a policy proposal to create a national park in the North of the country. As a result, I published an article in Policy & Society about conservation narratives in Vietnam (co-authored with two other researchers). This work on policy entrepreneurs inspired me to co-author an article in Global Governance on actors and strategies in promoting the discourse of River Basin Organizations globally, and to attend more closely to agency in environmental governance. This focus on agency later developed into a special issue, on which I elaborate below.

In my second post-doctoral project at Delft University of Technology, I researched public engagement in socio-technological transition to a bio-economy. In this project, I built upon and further refined a “ways of knowing approach” to public policy, which is to advocate for multiple ways of knowing policy issues and for the importance of knowledge pluralism in the policy process and community development. As a result of these efforts, I applied this approach to a bio-economy transition in a co-authored article for Environmental and Planning C, as well as to IWRM in a co-authored article in Policy Sciences, and to water security in another co-authored piece in International Negotiations and Environmental Agreements. I hope to continue this line of research in the future with grant applications.

In a separate research project, I co-edited the Special Issue of Environmental Science & Policy on institutional design and contextuality. The importance of context and contingency in institutional design is key in my research, and I remain interested in this subject. At the same time, I am interested in agency and the possibility of actors to shape their own reality. In this Special Issue I proposed with my colleagues a novel approach of interactive institutional design as an alternative to conventional top-down institutional designs.

Currently at my research position at Utrecht University's Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, I continue my work on water governance and policy translation in the EU funded POWER project which is focused on policy and knowledge network management through digital technologies, and work on water and environmental governance more broadly by applying for grants, supervising students, teaching, and developing theoretical and methodological approaches to study environmental governance.

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I supervise Master students and deliver guest lectures at the Master and Bachelor programmes offered by the Institute.

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Additional functions and activities

Additional Positions and Membership

  • Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore
  • Earth System Governance Alliance, Lund University, Research Fellow
  • AmuDarya River Basin Network, European Commission, Researcher

Journal Manuscript Review (multiple articles per journal in some cases)

  • Policy Sciences; Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy; Journal of Cleaner Production; Environmental Science and Policy; Ecology and Society; Global Environmental Change; Global Environmental Politics; International Negotiations and Environmental Agreements; Journal of Water Resources Management; Journal of Hydrology; International Journal of Water Resources Development; Water Policy; Water Alternatives; Earth System Governance Paper Series, WIREs, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis.

International Grant Review

  • The United Kingdom Natural Environment Resource Council (NERC); the ESPA call for “Sustainable, ecosystem-based pathways out of poverty”, ca. 500 000 EUR. One of 6 external reviewers.

Master Thesis Supervision

  • Supervised Master Thesis research of 12 international students at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; co-supervised 1 student at UNESCO-IHE in Delft (with Joyeeta Gupta), 1 student at Freie Universitat Berlin (with Miranda Schreurs), and 2 students at ADA University. Co-supervised 17 master students’ capstone projects at ADA University.
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Full name
dr. F. Mukhtarov Contact details
Willem C. van Unnikgebouw

Heidelberglaan 2
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The Netherlands

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Last updated 01.08.2017