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Regional development and telecommunications policy in Western Australia: accessing knowledge to inform policy through complexity and action research

Wong, Susan (2006) Regional development and telecommunications policy in Western Australia: accessing knowledge to inform policy through complexity and action research. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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      Abstract

      This study explores how governments use knowledge to inform telecommunications policy-making and policy-implementation in regional development. It focuses on epistemological aspects and assumptions made within the parameters of Enlightenment thinking or the Newtonian paradigm, also known as the classical scientit1c paradigm. It argues that lmowledge formed within this paradigm, usually generated at a distance, has been individ,uated, detached, segmented and abstracted. 'Individuation' focuses on individuals and things rather than communities and processes. 'Detachment' separates the subjective mind from the objective environment to produce reliable information. 'Segmentation' produces validity of information by parsing the objective environment from its social and historical context. 'Abstraction' allows objectivity and systematisation of information. When used to inform policy, such knowledge creates a narrow 'standardising gaze' that 'disciplines' communities to conform to dominant social behaviour and beliefs. Case studies are used to demonstrate that the two major models of development, as products ofthis paradigm, employ this gaze rendering replicability difficult ifnot impossible. These models are the top-down and bottom-up approach that are epitomised by the Silicon Valley model and telecentre moveluent respectively. How this gaze inhibits/facilitates development in policy implementation is then examined in the Goldfields Esperance region in Western Australia. An holistic approach using cotnplex adaptive systems is used to understand the multidisciplinary aspects involved in development. This is combined with action research, a reflexive methodology. Action research has the ability to access local knowledge to provide data and evaluation in situ rather than on a post hoc basis. The findings demonstrate that complex systems analysis and action research provide a modus operandi that: a) recognises the interplay of various factors (such as power relations, economic cycle, social and political institutions) at different levels of the system; b) recognises time, context and path-dependence of regional development; c) provides a filter that minimises the 'standardising gaze' and d) gives an access to knowledge and insight to local issues, which can facilitate policy implementation of development that is sympathetic to regional communities.

      Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
      Murdoch Affiliation: Murdoch Business School
      Supervisor: Joseph, Richard
      URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/455
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