A more comparative approach is needed in order to facilitate theoretical progress in street-level bureaucracy research. Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is a method that allows for systematic yet context-sensitive comparisons of intermediate to large numbers of cases. It accounts for the causes-of-effects types of research questions and the complexity facing implementation research. Using an empirical example, this chapter illustrates the possibilities for applying QCA to the study of street-level organizations and familiarizes the reader with the different steps of a QCA analysis. Street-level bureaucracy scholars using QCA in their research face challenges relating to limited empirical diversity, skewed data and robustness. They have innovative tools at their disposal to address these challenges in order to contribute to theory, ensure internal validity and engage in a rich dialogue with empirical cases.
Eva Lieberherr and Eva Thomann
In this chapter, the authors consider how in the public policy and public administration literature, accountability has typically been addressed as a hierarchical concept. Using this as a point of departure, they assess how scholars have applied a more nuanced understanding of accountability that includes informal aspects and social relations and hone in on the extended accountability regimes framework as a promising solution. Beyond political-administrative means, it includes customer/shareholder-oriented, vocational and participatory accountability. The authors then demonstrate what can be gained by addressing accountability beyond hierarchy. In doing so, they apply the extended accountability regimes framework to two illustrative cases: for-profit street-level bureaucrats in Swiss food safety policy as well as subnational governments and private street-level organizations in Swiss forest policy. In doing so, the authors shed light onto accountability dilemmas, where particularly political-administrative accountability conflicts with other accountabilities. The analysis shows how professional norms seem to play a key role for explaining action, regardless of whether the actors at the street level stem from the public or private sector.