Making it work: Institutionalizing digitalization in Danish local administrations

Sofie Blinkenberg Federspiel


Digitalization is commonly held to be a key component in transforming the public administration into a reflexive, flexible and dynamic organization. For this to be realized, digitalization, i.e. the strategic use of Information Technology (IT) in innovating workflows, needs to become a part of the organizational identity. Drawing on the concepts of institutional logics and institutional work this paper uses a qualitative case study of two Danish local administrations to explore the institutionalization of digitalization. Doing so, the paper demonstrates how institutional work within the organizations was loosely organized around different characters – the Mediators, the Preachers and the Gatekeepers – with the purpose of actively integrating diverging organizational perceptions of the role of IT in digitalization into the institution of digitalization. Thus, the paper argues that the organization of labor division within institutional work is an important, yet underexplored aspect of understanding how actors intentionally engage in their institutional environment. Moreover, the paper contributes to the institutionalization of digitalization in Danish local administrations by encouraging 1) a more nuanced institutionalization of digitalization to be accepted, and b) a stronger emphasis on the position of mid-level managers as Mediators – a role that is crucial for creating and maintaining the institution of digitalization.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413