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Contextualizing Institutional IT Policy: A Historical Narrative of UCLA’s Policymaking Environment


Information technology (IT) policymaking in higher education is often an ad hoc process,

responding to crises, rather than taking a proactive approach based on a clear understanding of the policy environment, resulting in inconsistency, inefficiency, and confusion. Without

sufficient contextualization, university IT policy lacks the vision and comprehensive strategy

needed to ensure its effectiveness and durability. Through a historical narrative of three cases of recent IT policy events at UCLA, this dissertation examines the features of the institutional policy context that shape technology policy development. By tracing the cases studies’ events and shared themes of academic freedom, free inquiry, information privacy, information security, data protection, and peer-to-peer digital piracy, the study demonstrates the complexity of the policy context and its changes over time. To guide policy research and writing, it draws from the historical case study data and proposes an analytical framework based on three prominent contextual elements--institutional values, governance, and stakeholder relationships. By applying that framework to recent and emerging IT policy issues at UCLA, the paper demonstrates the usefulness of a structured informed approach to complex institutional IT decision-making.

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