These two sub-sections contain further analyses of the two policy-related points on liminality introduced in Section 5.1.

7.1.1 Pol icy pref iguration and paradox

Formal well-intentioned policy-driven attempts to raise the efficiency of a large system or sector are central to the concept of the liminal paracommons. Policy intends to raise performance (setting up the chance for releasing paragains) but tends to be inadequate in understanding efficiency complexity with the consequence that outcomes differ from original intentions – disappointingly or paradoxically so (see Lopez-Gunn et al., 2012). This inadequacy arises because of the accelerating degree of complexity moving from small individual conversion units such as fields and plots (or indeed light bulbs) to agglomerations and collectives such as irrigation systems, cities or whole irrigation (or energy) sectors. This turns efficiency from being a relatively simple and controllable endeavour in the first instance to a matter of difficulty and uncertainty in the second instance. A comprehension lag arises from a policy-maker’s mistaken inference that large systems are simply bigger versions of smaller systems, rather than allowing for emerging behaviours that come with larger systems.1