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Can technology affect discretion?

Peter André Busch at the Faculty of Social Sciences  is defending his PhD-thesis entitled «Digital Discretion Acceptance and Impact in Street-Level Bureaucracy» Friday 10 May 2019.

The exercise of discretion as employees in the public sector practice it has been criticised because it can give staff too much power in their meetings with the client. Technology has been introduced as a solution to this challenge.

Peter André Busch

PhD-Candidate and Assistant Professor

Peter André Busch at the Faculty of Social Sciences has submitted his thesis entitled «Digital Discretion Acceptance and Impact in Street-Level Bureaucracy», and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Friday 10 May 2019. 

He has followed the PhD programme in Social Sciences with Specialisation in Information Systems.

Summary of the thesis by Peter André Busch:

Can technology affect discretion?

The exercise of discretion as employees in the public sector practice it has been criticised because it can give staff too much power in their meetings with the client.

Technology has been introduced as a solution to this challenge.

Technology can relieve judgement

When technology is introduced, there is a risk that staff trust digital tools more than they do their own professional judgement.

This solution can thus lead to employees who normally base their decisions on professional knowledge and experience transferring power over to digital tools which are designed by system developers without first-hand experience of public service provision.

In this doctoral study, I have investigated the circumstances in which technology can affect the exercise of discretion of a range of employee groups in the public sector – amongst them judges.

Discretion trumps technology

I found that professional motivation and the complexity of public services results in it being difficult to automatise decisions.

Many employees have a strong professional identity and their support is dependent on the professional result.

According to them, informational insecurity, the seriousness of the decisions, and the complexity of laws makes discretion necessary – especially within the traditional service sector which has been characterised by a great deal of exercised discretion.

I also found that staff within more hierarchical organisational structures are more inclined to accept a technological influence on discretion.

Disputation facts:

The Candidate: Peter André Busch (1976, Harstad), BA in IT and Information Systems and Master in Information Systems from UiA, now Assistant Professor at the Department of Information Systems, UiA.

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place at Arne Garborgs auditorium – B1-006, Campus Kristiansand.

Head of the Department of Information Systems, Professor Carl Erik Moe, will chair the disputation.

Trial lecture at 10:00 a.m.

Public defense at 12:00 noon

Given topic for trial lecture: “Opportunities and challenges of digital government

Thesis title: «Digital Discretion Acceptance and Impact in Street-Level Bureaucracy»

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder. The thesis will also be available at the University Library, and some copies will also be available for loan at the auditorium where the disputation takes place..

Opponents:

First opponent: Professor Maria A. Wimmer, University of Koblenz-Landau, Austria

Second opponent: Professor Elin Wihlborg, University of Linköping, Sweden

Professor Leif Skiftenes Flak, Department of Information Systems, UiA, is appointed as the administrator for the assessment commitee.

Supervisor was Professor Øystein Sæbø, Department of Information Systems, UiA

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