Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Katherine O'Connor


Security is a term that appears to be used in a variety of ways and to have a number of meanings. In policy discussions, there may be reference to information security, national security, network security, online security, and other kinds of security. In an environment where technological innovation appears to be occurring at an ever increasing rate, policy makers look to technological experts for advice, and information security policy is developed, it seems to be important to consider these variations in meaning. This constructivist inquiry explores the context in which information security policy is developed and inquires into the meanings, assumptions, and values of those who engage in policy discourse. The guiding research question, "What is the meaning of security?" asks participants in federal and state government, colleges and universities, and the private and non-profit sectors about their understandings of security. The findings of this inquiry, presented in a narrative case study report, and the implications of this case study provide a richer understanding of the multiple meanings of security in the context in which information is selected and presented to policy makers, advice is given, and policy decisions are made. The multiple perspectives offered by diverse research participants offer valuable insights into the complex world in which information security policy development takes place. While the goal of this research is understanding, the use of thick description in the narrative may aid in the transferability necessary for the reader to make use of this research in other settings. Lessons learned are included, along with implications for policy makers and for future research.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008