Previous studies conducted in the United States show that pluralist power structures lead to greater involvement by organized groups in issue-areas that affect communities. Given that pluralism is a procedural theory, broad stakeholder involvement thus depends on the effectiveness of the power structures. This article uses the Nile Basin Initiative project in Ethiopia, as case study, to explore the extent to which the presence or absence of pluralist structures influence involvement by nongovernmental stakeholders in the decision processes that affect shared water use. Analyses of qualitative data show that while theoretically the presence of pluralist power structures broadens stakeholder involvement, in practice it is not a sufficient condition. It is further observed that despite certain similarities in the way pluralism is defined and structured, the manner in which the pluralist power structures function depend on the degree of democratic openness at any given time and context.