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Improving the governance of information technology: Insights from the history of Internet governance

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journal contribution
posted on 04.10.2021, 10:14 by Neena Pandey, Rahul De, M.N. RavishankarM.N. Ravishankar
Governance of the Internet is a matter of global importance and concern. The multistakeholder (MS) and multilateral (ML) forms have been presented as two competing and plausible models of Internet governance. Drawing on Actor Network Theory (ANT) and building on an interpretive case study of rich archival data, this paper examines how the focal actor’s (i.e., the U.S. government’s) beliefs influence the choice of Internet governance form. It further explores the strategies of the focal actor to translate the interests of the ML network’s supporters, with a view to enrolling them in the MS governance network. The analysis shows how the focal actor has established the MS governance form through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as an Obligatory Passage Point to keep the Internet successfully operational. The analysis also illuminates the combination of structural and collaborative strategies employed to allay the growing dissatisfaction with the MS governance form. The paper suggests that whilst the protocols and technical standards of the Internet are increasingly relegated to the background, the social and political network that Internet artefacts draw together in a meta-form has grown in prominence. It also argues that there may be a hierarchy of beliefs, which influence how actors enact their translation strategies. Finally, the paper discusses parallels between the MS/ML forms of Internet governance and IT governance in organizational contexts.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

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Journal of Information Technology


SAGE Publications


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© Association for Information Technology Trust

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by SAGE Publications under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Prof M.N. Ravishankar. Deposit date: 2 October 2021