University of Tasmania
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Transformations in international civil society organisations working towards a greater access and use of governmental informational resources

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:11 authored by Fumega, SV
In less than a decade, the concept of accessing governmental information has been extended beyond mere access to information (via Freedom of information/FOI legislation) to demands for raw digital data, known as Open Government Data (OGD). The predominant legal orientation in the FOI field has until recently ignored or downplayed the role of organised civil society actors (Nongovernmental Organisations/NGOs) in the literature. On the other hand, in relation to OGD, the level and dynamic interplay of the field has outpaced the capacity of scholars to supply rigorous analysis of OGD developments particularly in relation to NGOs. This thesis seeks to fill that gap in terms of knowledge regarding NGOs working (internationally) on the access to and use of government information and data, as key players in policy diffusion processes. In particular, the literature shows that ICT has a profound impact on the structure of all organisations. Due to the limited scholarship in these areas (NGOs in FOI and OGD and the impact of ICT in these organisations), elements from the existing research on other aspects of FOI and NGOs are included, together with elements of the impact of ICT in other organisations. The influence of ICT in these international organisations highlights the differences not only between FOI and OGD but also among organisations. This thesis presents two different levels of analysis in order to explain the differences not only between the organisation working in FOI and OGD but also the divergences within in each of the fields. After analysing some of the common features of professionalised NGOs, divergences between both fields arise. In that sense, the strong legal background of the main FOI organisations, as well as within individual advocates, influenced the approach to the advocacy and the tools to reach new countries and regions. On the other hand, the critical overview of some of the main international actors in the OGD field demonstrates the clear importance and influence of ICT developments in this area and for these actors. The nature of organisational topics, the structure of the organisations, as well as the vision of their funders, they are all connected to the technological developments of the past couple of decades. While the analysis of some of the common features allows for the a first level of distinctions between both field, the research on the passage of bureaucratic organisations to post-bureaucratic organisations, borrowed from managerial studies, provides the elements to understand the differences between organisation working in the same field. While some organisations are organically and intellectually shaped to operate in a digitally dominated environment others are just starting to adapt to this new way of operating. By analysing the crucial impact of ICT in these organisations, the different influence in each of the fields and within them can be clearly understood.


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