It is argued that a corporate GIS is the lowest level in a hierarchy of spatial data infrastructures (SDIs) worldwide. Therefore, SDI development can benefit from a good understanding of the nature and dynamics of development of a corporate GIS. To facilitate this cross-fertilisation, existing definitions of GIS are briefly reviewed in the context of the organisational setting of a corporate GIS. A high level perspective which describes a corporate GIS as making up of GIS modules that play the roles of either an infrastructure or a business process is presented in the paper. The modules are termed infrastructure GIS and business process GIS respectively, with the former supporting the latter.
The patterns of GIS development and some long term characteristics of a corporate GIS are identified in a study of the dynamics of GIS development in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in the State Government of Victoria. These two aspects of the nature of a corporate are also applicable to SDIs and their development. Based on the experience of SDI development in Australia, particularly Victoria, the implications of the observed nature of SDI relationships on SDI management are discussed