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Artificial intelligence, bureaucratic form, and discretion in public service

Artificial intelligence, bureaucratic form, and discretion in public service This article examines the relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI), discretion, and bureaucratic form in public organizations. We ask: How is the use of AI both changing and changed by the bureaucratic form of public organizations, and what effect does this have on the use of discretion? The diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has changed administrative behavior in public organizations. Recent advances in AI have led to its increasing use, but too little is known about the relationship between this distinct form of ICT and to both the exercise of discretion and bureaucratic form along the continuum from street- to system-levels. We articulate a theoretical framework that integrates work on the unique effects of AI on discretion and its relationship to task and organizational context with the theory of system-level bureaucracy. We use this framework to examine two strongly differing cases of public sector AI use: health insurance auditing, and policing. We find AI’s effect on discretion is nonlinear and nonmonotonic as a function of bureaucratic form. At the same time, the use of AI may act as an accelerant in transitioning organizations from street- and screen-level to system-level bureaucracies, even if these organizations previously resisted such changes. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Information Polity IOS Press

Artificial intelligence, bureaucratic form, and discretion in public service

Information Polity , Volume 25 (4): 16 – Dec 4, 2020

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Publisher
IOS Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2020 © 2020 – IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved
ISSN
1570-1255
eISSN
1875-8754
DOI
10.3233/IP-200223
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI), discretion, and bureaucratic form in public organizations. We ask: How is the use of AI both changing and changed by the bureaucratic form of public organizations, and what effect does this have on the use of discretion? The diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has changed administrative behavior in public organizations. Recent advances in AI have led to its increasing use, but too little is known about the relationship between this distinct form of ICT and to both the exercise of discretion and bureaucratic form along the continuum from street- to system-levels. We articulate a theoretical framework that integrates work on the unique effects of AI on discretion and its relationship to task and organizational context with the theory of system-level bureaucracy. We use this framework to examine two strongly differing cases of public sector AI use: health insurance auditing, and policing. We find AI’s effect on discretion is nonlinear and nonmonotonic as a function of bureaucratic form. At the same time, the use of AI may act as an accelerant in transitioning organizations from street- and screen-level to system-level bureaucracies, even if these organizations previously resisted such changes.

Journal

Information PolityIOS Press

Published: Dec 4, 2020

References