The making of institutions of information governance: The case of the internet governance forum

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Histories of information systems are inseparable from the histories of their governance. In the case of the Internet, governance structures informally developed during its early design were substantially different from the typical mechanisms resulting from public policy decision-making. Traditionally, global information systems, such as telecommunication systems, were governed through state-centric mechanisms that would set treaty-based framework for non-state actors to operate within. Legitimate participation in these traditional governance structures was the prerogative of states that possessed sole decision-making authority. In the case of the Internet, non-state-actor-driven governance frameworks were developed outside of those traditional mechanisms. They relied on a different conception of legitimacy and authority. This paper discusses how the state and non-state actors were forced to cooperate around the creation of institutions that could accommodate the variety of views on authority, legitimacy, and decision-making processes in Internet governance. It tracks the creation of the Internet Governance Forum as a case where notions of legitimacy and authority were redefined for policy deliberations of complex information systems. The paper concludes with whether those changes lead to the emergence of new institutions that contribute to the sustainability of the network by enabling coexistence of competing political interests and values; and what this could mean for the future of the network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-149
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Information Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Internet governance
  • information policy
  • institutional history

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Strategy and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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