Title page for ETD etd-06172008-202220

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Lee, Maeng Joo
Author's Email Address gopeace@vt.edu
URN etd-06172008-202220
Title Linking Governance and Performance: ICANN as an Internet Hybrid
Degree PhD
Department Public Administration and Public Affairs
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Hult, Karen M. Committee Chair
Eikenberry, Angela M. Committee Member
Rees, Joseph V. Committee Member
Roberts, Patrick S. Committee Member
  • hybridity
  • governing nonprofit
  • policy conservatism
  • technical capture
  • institutional stability
  • performance evaluation
  • DNS
  • Internet governance
Date of Defense 2008-06-03
Availability unrestricted
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a hybrid organization managing the most critical Internet infrastructure - the Domain Name System. ICANN represents a new, emerging Internet self-governance model in which the private sector takes the lead and the government sector plays a more marginal role. Little is known, however, about what is actually happening in this new organization.

The dissertation (a) systematically assesses ICANN’s overall performance based on a set of evaluative criteria drawn from its mission statements; (b) explores possible factors and actors that influence ICANN’s overall performance by tracing the governance processes in three cases based on a preliminary conceptual framework; and (c) suggests practical and theoretical implications of ICANN’s governance and performance in its broader institutional context.

The study finds that although differing governance processes have led to different performance outcomes (Lynn et al. 2000), “stability” has been the defining value that has shaped the overall path of ICANN’s governance and performance. The study characterizes ICANN as a conservative hybrid captured, based on specific issues, by the technical and governmental communities. It also proposes the concept of “technical capture” to suggest how technical experts can have significant, but often implicit, influence over the policy development process in organizations.

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