Big Data – A Source for Organizational Knowledge Creation and Support in Decision Making: An Exploratory Case Study of the Concept and Practical Use of Big Data in Danish Local Government

Lasse Vinter & Anders Mårtensson

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This master’s thesis is concerned with the practical use of big data in Danish local government. The primary aim of this thesis is to investigate the actual effects of big data as a source for new organizational knowledge creation and support in decision making, which most literature generally consider it has potential to provide and enable. The secondary aims are to assess and add understanding of the complex concept of big data and to present an example of the practical use of it.
The study attempts to establish insights on how big data creates new organizational knowledge and supports decision making in local government context, seeing that little is known about the actual outcome of the practical use of it in the public sector. Hence, the study operates under the pragmatic paradigm, whose focus is concerned with action, intervention and constructive knowledge. Empirical data have been collected through the qualitative research methods of partially-structured interviews and participant observations to enable a rich understanding of the concept of big data and the practical use of it in Danish local government.
As such, this master’s thesis contributes with an in-depth account of how big data is used in Danish local government with the case of Residential Social Monitoring. The findings both support and extend current big data literature. Even though big data has received a great deal of attention in recent years, this study shows a variety of meanings and reflects a wide range of what the concept encompasses. The practical usage at Svendborg Municipality shows that big data is able to create new organizational knowledge as ‘large’ datasets offer a higher form of intelligence that can generate new insights. With new knowledge, the ability and capacity to make better decisions are now possible, seeing decisions now can be made on a greater informed basis. Apart from using big data for informational purposes and thus to decrease uncertainty, big data also reduces equivocality by creating shared understandings of choice situations. Despite the great opportunities that follows big data, a number of organizational challenges and IT-related requirements exist. To harvest the full potential, these challenges and requirements must be addressed. The study ends by concluding that big data shows great utility for Svendborg Municipality and the rest of the Danish public sector.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages133
SupervisorsHelle Zinner Henriksen