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Michael Hill

An employment relationship may be seen as contractual and egalitarian: a task is willingly performed and a reward provided for doing it. Maybe therefore there need be no concern about questions of social justice entering into the relationship. But such relationships are usually not equal: the task is performed because the reward is necessary for the employee’s wellbeing. The subject of social justice and employment is therefore about the extent to which the weaker party, the employee, is protected from exploitation. This means that this chapter needs to deal not only with the issues about the regulation of work but also with the protection of employees from compulsion into work regardless of their capacities or choices, that is exploitation. It overlaps with wider concerns about social protection. One cannot explore the terms within which employment is provided without considering what happens if people lose and/or are unable to obtain work, that is, the issues about the treatment of unemployed people.

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Peter Hupe and Michael Hill

In this chapter street-level bureaucracy is considered as a field of scholarly inquiry positioned within the broader study of the policy process and policy implementation. Given the development of the study of government-in-action, what kinds of insights have been gained and how can the state of knowledge be characterized? Street-level bureaucracy as a scholarly theme of its own is the result of an ongoing process of academic differentiation and specialization. More or less parallel with the first top-down implementation studies, scholars asked attention about what, in contrast, happens at the bottom of public administration. The later plea for synthesizing approaches so far has not led to one, generally adopted, grand implementation theory. Against this background some aspects of collected thought on the policy process, implementation and street-level bureaucracy are highlighted as general points to be kept in mind – or pitfalls to be avoided – when doing research on government-in-action.

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Michael Hill and Peter Hupe

Central in this chapter is the issue of how to compare public task performance. The authors argue that comparative studies of street-level bureaucracy can best be advanced through recognition of the tiered character of the relevant independent variables and by developing approaches to the explanation of the interactions between them. Making use of the three hypotheses about what may matter and how, as discussed in Chapter 17, may be helpful then. The conclusion is that all three – respectively, work setting, motivation and control – ‘matter’. However, the how and scope of that ‘mattering’ can only be analysed in the context at hand. The extent to which any of the three hypotheses contributes to the explanation of variation in public task performance will depend on the nature of that particular (institutional) environment. Hence, there is a need to work through the ways variables are to be defined in concrete contexts.

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Michael Hill, Martine Long, Anna Marzanati and Frank Bönker