restricted access 6 Competing Values Regarding Internet Use in “Free” Philippine Social Institutions
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6 Competing Values Regarding Internet Use in “Free” Philippine Social Institutions Erwin A. Alampay, Joselito C. Olpoc, and Regina M. Hechanova The Internet is used within institutions to expand access to knowledge, to improve communications, to manage information, or to increase productivity. But users also download movies, write blog posts, and chat with friends. In other words, people do not always use the Internet for the original purpose for which an institution provided it. Though it is value neutral, there are often competing values in the intentions of those who use Internet technology in an organization: between openness and control, privacy and security, participation and efficiency. These competing values are not necessarily emphasized equally, and may differ from unit to unit, even within the same type of institution. Emphasizing one value can hamper the pursuit of another, depending on the context and structures influencing an organization’s choice.1 Quinn and Rohrbaugh in their model on competing values, for instance, hypothesize that common tensions arise out of internal versus external issues, and between concern for control and a desire for flexibility.2 Since information systems can be designed for a range of purposes, it is relatively easy to observe how competing values lead to tensions in access and use. In the case of the Internet, how it is used and adopted within institutions also undergoes similar contestations, even in countries such as the Philippines, where access to it is relatively unfettered.3 This chapter explores three institutions in the Philippines: the government, educational institutions, and private corporations. Through a series of case studies, we analyze how these institutions struggle with implementing policies on Internet use, while highlighting competing values among stakeholders on how to take advantage of the benefits that the Internet provides. These cases highlight some of the issues, concerns, and competing views with respect to using Internet facilities in the workplace that emerged from two separate surveys conducted by OpenNet Asia in 2008– 2009. The first survey collected the views of information and technology managers and human resources managers on why they provided Internet in the workplace and how they monitored and disciplined employees. The second survey investigated the same issues from the perspective of the employees. Comparing the views of both sides, 116 Erwin A. Alampay, Joselito C. Olpoc, and Regina M. Hechanova patterns of dispute regarding the online space the organization provided were evident: one side tried to control use (e.g., monitoring; disciplining for misuse, etc.), while the other side explored the boundaries of the space (e.g., performing tasks not originally intended, deliberately circumventing policies that restrict use). The first set of cases deals with how the current government uses new media. Governments see in new media the opportunity to encourage citizen participation and a venue for more transparent government. The second set of cases involves educational institutions. It analyzes universities internally providing Internet access to increase access to online knowledge, while at the same time trying to regulate what students access. The last set of cases analyzes corporations and how they tackle Internet abuse by employees, and their ways to control external stakeholders whose use of the Internet also has an impact on how these organizations are perceived. These cases are analyzed using Quinn and Rohrbaugh’s model, which describes four important values that differ in their preference for control (controlling versus flexibility) and locus (internal versus external), namely: internal process value, open system value, rational goal value, and human relations values. Internal process value emphasizes control and internal focus while stressing information management, communication, and stability. Rational goal, in contrast, focuses on the external and on control, using terms like plans and productivity. Human relations values the flexibility provided, while focusing on the internal and stressing better cohesion, morale, and human resources. Finally, open systems also look at the external and how to provide the organization with flexibility, while stressing growth, resource acquisition, and external support.4 Three Philippine institutions illustrate how competing values apply in contested Internet use: government, schools, and corporations. In these cases, clear positions, protocols, or policies have yet to take hold. In each venue, different sides debate the balance of how the Internet can or should be used by or within these institutions. These incidents, in turn, help define their respective institutions’ future policies. Although not as dramatic as the contestations that occur at the international level, they nonetheless touch on similar themes: security, control, privacy, access to information , transparency, and freedom of...


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