School of Politics and International Relations

Exploring the Strategic Utility of Cyber Capabilities in New Zealand and Singapore

Francis Domingo reports on his fieldwork in New Zealand and Singapore in June and July 2016, for which he was awarded funds from the School of Politics and International Relations, the Centre for Conflict, Security and Terrorism and the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies.


The funds awarded were used for travel and data collection expenses in New Zealand and Singapore. The objective of the fieldwork was to corroborate existing primary and secondary sources by conducting semi-structured interviews and gathering additional primary documents. I was able to engage with government officials, cyber security technical experts, policy analysts working in think tanks, as well as technology journalists. In New Zealand, I consulted with officials from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In Singapore, I was given access to officials working with the Prime Minister’s Office as well as a main government partnered think tank, the Centre of Excellence for National Security of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

In terms of documents, I was able to collect a suitable number of primary documents relating to foreign policy, national security strategy, and information and communications technology in both countries. Moreover, I was also able secure copies of secondary sources that were not readily accessible outside the New Zealand and Singapore such as the New Zealand International Review and materials on the founding fathers of Singapore.

The data collected through interviews and the primary documents are crucial for my thesis because of three reasons. First, my fieldwork confirmed the advantages of studying cyber security from the discipline of International Relations. Second, fieldwork enabled me identify the gaps between the academic literature on cyber security and government cyber security strategies in the countries I visited. Lastly, I discovered that in reality most of countries in the Asia-Pacific Region are still developing cyber security strategies hence strategic thinking regarding the use of cyber capabilities is still in its initial stages.

Francis Domingo, PhD Candidate
School of Politics and International Relations, The University of Nottingham

Posted on Tuesday 11th October 2016

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