Information Technology Reference
contextual reasons are summarized for how and why discretions may arise. Third, as
different coordination types have different aims, and given that discretions relate to
coordination, one can also make a distinction between different types of discretions.
This will complete the typology of discretions. The typology is then converted into a
set of empirical indicators to evaluate whether any type of discretion is present and to
evaluate the contextual reasons for each occurrence of discretions. It shows further-
more how to analyze the discretion types empirically, which is followed by an evalu-
ation of discretions in four cases. The interpretative sections compare the results of
the evaluation and explain the findings with theory wherever fitting and appropriate.
9.2 Discretions and Public Sector iCt Coordination
The study of discretionary behavior has been given a new impetus by the ques-
tion to which extent technical innovations in the public sector also affect public
sector behavior. One perspective is to relate discretionary behavior to coordina-
tion actions in the public sector. Chisholm (1992) defines coordination as “mecha-
nisms through which communications take place and solutions are sought and
implemented” (p. 65). In this view, coordination is not only an interactive and
operational activity of communication and implementation but also a normative
activity of solution seeking and choosing of priorities among possible solutions.
These address public sector problems of accountability at large or organizational
efficiency and service provision (Webb, 1991). When treated as an organizational
problem, coordination is an activity that connects organizational structure (formal
or informal) to organizational tools (including technology).
When intersecting coordination with ICT, the coordination solutions are rep-
resented as a form of alignment between different options. Alignment can be the
activity of connecting strategy to information technology (IT), but may also be the
activity of finding the middle ground between the views and values from different
actors with respect to the use of a technology. In either case, the activity intervenes
in current organizational routines and may involve a restructuring of interpersonal
or interorganizational relations. Emerging technology may thus be the start of coor-
dination (activities conducted to adapt the organizational routines to the emergent
changes in technology) or may be the effect of the coordination (the emerging tech-
nology from the activities between different people or organizations). In both cases,
coordination is a goal-setting and goal-implementing activity, whereby goals may
be shaped in the form of either rules or norms (such as standards), processes (chains
or product lines), products/services (specific output requirements), or impacts (such
as envisaged externalities).
Combining coordination with ICT in the public sector or public administra-
tion brings about the generic characteristics of ICT coordination: a normative
activity associated with (inter)organizational tools geared at certain outcomes that
are relevant in a particular (inter)organizational context. Specific for the public