E-democracy and public administrators: the Malaysian case

2017-01-13T04:14:17Z (GMT) by Abu Bakar, Abdul Gapar
The thesis investigates public administrators’ use of interactive Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in the Malaysian Federal Public Service (MFPS). It describes qualitative research which identifies the nature of e-democracy practices in policy development in the MFPS. In-depth interviews and scholarly as well as government documents provide empirical evidence. Through a survey of literature, contextual features such as absence of policy in the MFPS for e-democracy, constitutional limitations on public discussions of issues relating to Bumiputera preferential rights, and a guarantee of non-censorship of the Internet were identified. These factors contribute to making MFPS a distinctive case for e-democracy study. Literature with structurational perspectives on ICTs, including Parvez’s double structurational loop framework, is reviewed to develop the research framework. The research findings describe four practices of e-democracy enacted by public administrators of policy development in the MFPS: ‘inputs collection’, information exchange’, ‘communication’, and ‘electronification’. These practices are shaped by cultural dimensions, namely norms, organizational culture features and national culture features. The emergent roles of e-democracy were determined by categorizing these four practices as augmenting (inputs collection and information exchange), modulating (communication), and retention (electronification) of existing processes in the MFPS. Importantly, the findings also suggest a modification to Parvez’s framework with an additional Institutional Leadership loop. This modification focuses this research examination of social influences on human actors who are involved in the design of infrastructures for e-democracy without a clear policy directive. This study therefore makes a contribution towards identifying administrative dimensions of e-democracy in the institutional context of the Malaysian public administration. By enriching knowledge of how the utilization of technology shapes e-democracy practices, this study provides a foundation for understanding e-democracy in the Malaysian context (which allows for a comparison of similarities and differences between implementations of e-democracy in other countries). The study determines how ideals of e-democracy can be nurtured to enhance policymaking processes in the MFPS and generally guides the future development of e-democracy in Malaysia.