So, what are you studying Reedz? – The Dissertation

by Reedz on April 17, 2010

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Today I thought I’d shed a bit of light on what exactly am I researching at the moment for my dissertation. But first things first, what exactly IS a dissertation? A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification presenting the author’s research and findings. For the course I’m doing, the dissertation is an 18 to 20 thousand word body of work on a topic of interest to me (related to new media of course).

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I selected the topic of “e-government” primarily because of my involvement (directly or otherwise) in the e-government space both from a solution provider and a client perspective. However, my involvement has always been focused on the “what” and “how” of e-government. With this research exercise, I wanted to get a clearer and deeper understanding of the “why”. Below are some highlights of my dissertation proposal, which was submitted and approved last semester. This proposal forms the basis of all the work done on the dissertation; a blueprint so to speak.

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Proposed Dissertation Title:

Why e-government? The rationale for national e-government programs in some ASEAN member countries.

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Outline of Proposed Dissertation.

ASEAN is made up of 10 member countries which have diverse historical, cultural, and ideological backgrounds from the semi-authoritarian to the democracies, to the absolute monarchies. As such, the level of readiness, rationale, and implementation of e-government in these member countries is just as diverse.

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To date, there have been very few studies done on e-government in ASEAN, of particular note being my buddy James Yong’s “E-Government in Asia”, Ian Holliday’s work “Building e-government in East and Southeast Asia: Regional rhetoric and national (in)action” and Rivera et al, “E-government in the ASEAN Context: A Conceptual Framework”. Because of this, there has been a call for more studies on e-government specifically in the ASEAN context.

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I am approaching this topic from a socio-political perspective, looking at the motivation for ASEAN nation states to adopt and implement e-government initiatives. Also looking at whether e-government can help to strengthen the authoritarian state and augment central authority. There is also this notion of e-government helping to eliminate corruption and other questionable practices by increasing transparency and bolstering accountability.

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Why do some e-government initiatives focus on service provision, while others emphasize participation? To what degree do the various national e-government policies in ASEAN converge in terms of formulation of aims, and implementation. Most of these questions will be answered within the framework of the Information Society with particular reference to technological determinism in Castell’s works and that of others such as Daniel Bell, Alvin Toeffler, and Frank Webster.

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What is it you hope to find out?  (Hypothesis)

With this study I hope to look at e-government policies and implementation in ASEAN and how, given the challenges posed by information society to dominant organizational categories such as class, state, and nation, result in differences in approach to e-government by the different ASEAN member countries and identify the factors which contribute to these differences within the theoretical framework of the information society.

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How are you going to do it?  (Methodology)

Primary sources:

By looking at government policies pertaining to the implementation of e-government and how they were formulated, i.e. context and objective.

Qualitative methods i.e. interviews with policymakers, key implementers and academe. Here I aim to speak to the key players such as government CIO’s, IT committee members, IT managers, and think-tank experts from respective member countries such as ISEAS, ISIS, and SIIA.

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Secondary sources:

Journals like Technovation, New Media & Society, Media Asia, World Future Review, and e-Gov, and official publications from world and regional bodies like OECD, UN, and ASEAN

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Note: In the spirit of new media, I am open to any and all comments and inputs on the above. I’d love to hear your thoughts about e-government in Brunei or any other ASEAN member country either as a comment to this post, or please feel free to drop me a line at reedz@anakbrunei.org

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