Accounts of hydro-hegemony and counter hydro-hegemony provide state-based conceptions of power in international river basins. However, authority should be seen as transnationalized as small states develop coping strategies to augment their authority over decision-making processes. The article engages Rosenau’s spheres of authority concept to argue that hydro-hegemony is exercised by actors embedded in spheres of authority that reshape actor configurations as they emerge. These spheres consist of complex networks challenging customary notions of the local-global dichotomy and hydro-hegemony. Hydro-hegemony is therefore not fixed. The article examines these processes by analysing the dispute over the Xayaburi Dam in the Mekong Basin.