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Who Sets the Agenda on Economic Diversification in Kazakhstan? An Emphasis on Energy Diversification

Wednesday, 4 October 2017
12:00 noon to 1:00 pm
ESI Conference Room
Mr. Mergen Dyussenov


This presentation is built on a paper presented at 2 conferences: first at ICPP-3 2017 Singapore in late June, and second at the 2017 GSPP Conference on economic diversification in Astana, Kazakhstan in Aug. The paper attempts to answer the key question – who sets the agenda for economic diversification in the context of Kazakhstan? This question generally remains critical in current scholarly debates. Although Kazakhstan, a young post-Soviet developing nation, has received a fair amount of scholarly attention with regard to the agenda-setting stage of the policy cycle, the existing literature has yet failed to 1) empirically establish who actually sets the agenda for a certain policy issue, and 2) employ the Internet research methods. This paper seeks to fill these gaps. The literature review of Kazakh-context agenda-setting publications suggests that among the major actors, the government (including the Prime Minister office and President) tend to exert predominant influence, though other actors may also play a role, such as media and academia. As driven by Internet penetration rate data, this research focuses on the period from Jan 2011 to Dec 2016.

The findings lead to two key outcomes. First, think tanks seem to set government agenda for economic diversification policy in Kazakhstan. Second, the government, while exhibiting the larger agenda-setting magnitude vis-à-vis the other actors, shapes subsequent debates as measured by the number of relevant references in media, think tank, and academic publications. This research seeks to contribute to existing agenda-setting theory in the internet era by defining the most important actor(s) specifically in Kazakh context based on longitudinal dynamics in attention.

This presentation should be relevant as it also touches upon setting the agenda on energy diversification policy (as a sub-type of economic diversification more broadly), further sub-divided into diversification within the energy sector and transition to green energy all in context of Kazakhstan.

About the Speaker:

Mergen Dyussenov is a PhD student at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore. Originally from Kazakhstan, Mergen's total 11-year experience comprises posts in public service, a think tank, and the private sector. His academic background includes an MPA at SIPA Columbia’11 and MBA at Johnson & Wales (RI)’07.

His current research interests include the analysis of issue attention dynamics, an actor-centric approach to agenda-setting processes, along with the use of internet and online research methods. The major policy issues analyzed include corruption and economic diversification. His research has been published by the Journal of Asian Public Policy (2017, Taylor & Francis) and Lithuania-based Public Policy and Administration journal (2016), while his other paper on the role of ICT in addressing corruption across political regimes has been accepted for publication by the Philippine Journal of Public Administration (forthcoming).