Open Access
Martin, Brandie Lee
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 28, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Richard Denny Taylor, Dissertation Advisor
  • Krishna Prasad Jayakar, Committee Member
  • Amit Schejter, Committee Member
  • Carleen Frances Maitland, Special Member
  • Actor-Centered Institutionalism
  • East African Community
  • Internet Governance Forum
  • Policymaking
Given the complex and interconnected nature of Internet governance, non-binding, multi-stakeholder Internet governance forums (IGFs) operating at national, regional, and global levels have been established to enable stakeholders to discuss and identify emerging issues and potential solutions. This study is one of the first to explore the function of the IGF model in a developing country region by focusing on the East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF), the first regional IGF established globally. This study conducted an in-depth case study of the 2012 EAIGF as well as a comparative case study analysis of Kenya and Uganda, two member countries of the EAIGF. The case study approach was used to identify the influence of the EAIGF on policymaking in the region as well as the impacts of national institutional endowments on stakeholder participation and impact within the forum. Data were derived from document analysis and semi-structured in-depth interviews with stakeholders from civil society organizations, ICT-related ministries, telecommunications regulatory agencies, and the private sector. This research identified that the forum contributes to capacity building, consensus building and identification of emerging national and regional Internet governance issues, and assists in the formation of national and regional policies. Findings also revealed that national institutional endowments affect stakeholder involvement and influence within the forum. Participants indicated that Kenya has the greatest influence in the EAIGF because of its position as a regional economic leader, its strong telecommunications sector, and its longstanding role as the regional champion of the EAIGF. Civil society stakeholders are believed to shape the function and goals of the forum, and government stakeholders are believed to have the greatest influence within forum interactions due to their ability to implement policy reforms. This research found that the EAIGF model has influenced collaborative policymaking in the region. EAIGF stakeholders wish to formalize the forum and ensure that the EAIGF leads to policy implementation by aligning it with the East African Communications Organization, the telecommunications policymaking arm of the East African Community. Furthermore, stakeholders believed that the Forum has led to increased collaborations between government and civil society stakeholders in ICT-related policymaking. This dissertation modifies Scharpf’s (1997) actor-centered institutionalism model using international regime theory and the theory of elite competition to make it more applicable to non-binding, multi-stakeholder policy interactions.