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A blueprint for the evaluation of an ombudsman's office: a case study of the ICANN office of the ombudsman

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posted on 2023-01-11, 13:54 authored by Frank Fowlie
Abstract: The title of this dissertation incorporates two key terms that define the work. First, the reader should view the paper by as a blueprint for evaluation which, like all generic blueprints, can be amended to fit the terrain, augmented based on new information or technology, or reduced to fit a stricter budget. It is also very much a blueprint that is developed from an action-oriented case study of an ombudsman, and is, therefore, relevant and tested. A long-standing question in the ombudsman community has been how to evaluate ombudsman operations without impugning the determining characteristics of an ombudsman: independence, impartiality, and confidentiality. There has been a lack of information or guidance, especially at the practitioner level, on how ombudsmen can develop meaningful evaluations without violating confidences or independence. This dissertation provides practitioners with tools that will enable them to conduct evaluations to determine information about ombudsman operations, formulation, and improvements. The dissertation also provides information on two areas of interest for ombudsmen. First, it focuses on the design, development, reporting on, and assessment of a multipronged evaluation approach for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Office of the Ombudsman. This review also considers the somewhat scarce existing literature in the field. Second, this dissertation fills the gap in the existing literature by developing a practitioner’s guide to evaluation techniques. The evaluation research is developed and conducted with the ICANN Ombudsman by designing, implementing, and assessing a number of evaluation techniques: self-evaluation, client surveys, benchmarking activities, and the like. The ICANN Office of the Ombudsman is a unique entity. It conducts online dispute resolution as an ombudsman. It is likely the first, if not the only online ombudsman operation anywhere. The ICANN Ombudsman has jurisdiction over complaints concerning the actions, decisions, or inactions of the ICANN Board of Directors, staff, or supporting organizations. It conducts its work using a wide variety of alternative dispute resolution techniques: negotiation, mediation, shuttle diplomacy, good offices, fact finding, investigation, and reporting and recommendation. All this research is important, not simply to fill gaps in the literature, but to provide the growing ombudsman community with cost-effective tools that enable them to determine any gaps in community service, jurisdiction, or activity; to determine whether there are adequate resources; and to justify retention of either the incumbent or the programme generally. This is a set of skills and action plans that are in high demand by the community, and this dissertation provides the first major steps to meet that demand.

Originally part of the Australasian Digital Theses (ADT) database.

Originally submitted for Australasian Digital Theses (ADT) database.

Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment for the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Conflict Resolution [to the School of Law], Faculty of Law and Management, La Trobe University, Bundoora.


Center or Department

School of Law.

Thesis type

  • Doctorate

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


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The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over the content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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