Cyber security in the European Union: an historical institutionalist analysis of a 21st century security concern

Dewar, Robert Scott (2017) Cyber security in the European Union: an historical institutionalist analysis of a 21st century security concern. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis uses cyber security, an important topic in today's world, as a vector for analysis in order to contribute to a better understanding of the European Union (EU)’s policy-making processes. Although EU policy has received extensive scholarly attention, cyber security policy is under-researched, a gap in current literature this thesis addresses. The goal of the thesis is to understand why the Union adopted and maintained a socio-economic approach to cyber security when other actors added military and defence considerations. The thesis employs an historical institutionalist (HI) framework to examine the long-term institutional and ideational influences underpinning policy development in this area between 1985 and 2013. This was achieved using a longitudinal narrative inquiry employing an original, conceptual content analysis technique developed to gather data from both relevant EU acquis communautaire and over 30 interviews.

There were three main findings resulting from this analysis, two empirical and one theoretical. The first empirical finding was that the EU’s competences established an institutional framework – a set of rules and procedures – for policy development in this sector. By restricting the EU’s capacity to engage in military or national security-oriented issues, its competences required it to respond to emerging security matters from a socio-economic perspective. The second empirical finding was that there exists a specific discourse underpinning EU cyber security policy. That discourse is predicated upon a set of five ideational elements which influenced policy continuously between 1985 and 2013. These five elements are: maximising the economic benefits of cyberspace; protecting fundamental rights; tackling cyber-crime; promoting trust in digital systems and achieving these goals through facilitating actor co-operation. Throughout the thesis the argument is made that the EU adopted and maintained its socio-economic policy as a result of an interaction between this ideational discourse and the institutional framework provided by competences. This interaction created a linear, but not deterministic path of policy development from which the EU did not deviate. The third, theoretical, finding relates to the HI mechanisms of path dependency and punctuated equilibrium. The EU’s policy discourse was exposed to major stresses after 2007 which, according to punctuated equilibrium, should have caused policy change. Instead, those stresses entrenched the Union’s discourse. This demonstrates an explanatory flexibility not normally associated with punctuated equilibrium. The findings of the thesis have implications for policy practitioners by providing a way to identify underlying ideational dynamics in policy development. Due to a combination of empirical and conceptual findings, the thesis provides a potential basis for future research in EU policy development and HI analyses.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Cyber security, historical institutionalism, European Union, policy development, narrative inquiry, EU institutions, EU actorness, policy discourse, punctuated equilibrium, path dependency, ideational elements of policy, timescape.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Supervisor's Name: Butler, Dr. Eamonn
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: MR ROBERT S DEWAR
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8188
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2017 16:00
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2017 16:13

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