Automated Decision-making and Good Administration: Views from Inside the Government Machinery

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Use of semi- and fully automated, administrative decision-making in public administration is increasing. Despite this increase, few studies have explicitly analysed its relation to good administration. Good administration is regulations and norms aimed at securing the correctness of administrative decisions as well as the legitimacy of these and is often associated with underlying values such as transparency, equality of treatment and accountability. Based on a thematic analysis of qualitative interviews with 43 key public administration stakeholders in a wide array of policy areas in Denmark, insiders of government machinery are shown to perceive relations between automated decision-making and good administration as manifold. Automated, administrative decision-making is articulated as providing both opportunities for supporting good administration and undermining good administration. Six values of good administration particularly related to automated, administrative decision-making are identified: Carefulness; Respecting-individual-rights; Professionalism; Trustworthiness; Responsiveness and Empowerment. Put simply, risks to good administration can be expected to occur if administrative bodies apply automated, administrative decision-making, while opportunities must be actively nurtured through managerial attention. Despite popular conceptions of the threat of “robotic government”, the conclusions of this study indicate a need for a more pragmatic view of relations of automated, administrative decision-making and good administration balanced between outright techno-optimism and techno-pessimism.
TidsskriftGovernment Information Quarterly
Udgave nummer4
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2023


  • Digital government
  • Automated decision-making
  • Administrative decisions
  • Good administration
  • Values
  • Techno-optimism
  • Techno-pessimism