Existing research on street-level bureaucracy has hitherto paid little attention to the impacts of different country-specific institutional contexts on actual street-level policymaking, public service delivery and task fulfilment. Comparative Public Administration, too, has not provided much evidence so far on how different public-administrative settings and cultures actually influence the activities of administrative actors and the performance of service provision. This chapter attempts to link up these two fields of analyses. The authors outline major dimensions, criteria and findings of cross-country comparative studies in public administration which promise to be a fruitful ground for advancing comparative research of street-level bureaucracy. The chapter sets out to explore how existing concepts and analytical tools of Comparative Public Administration could be used for street-level bureaucracy research by way of incorporating comparative aspects more explicitly. A brief introduction to the comparative study of public administration is provided and major typologies for cross-country analysis are presented, as well as some key empirical findings which are relevant to the study of street-level bureaucracy.
This chapter provides an overview of significant research issues in comparative public administration and suggests future research themes and topics. The focus of the chapter is on four areas of academic interest over the last few years and includes: the context of reform for the administrative systems and the conditions of reform; public sector reforms per se; reform of civil service systems and the politicization of the public sector; and multi-level governance including local government. The chapter suggests a series of areas for research including in sub-fields of public administration in order to ensure there is an advance in understanding these fields in ways that can have a real-world impact as well as developing theoretical models.
Sabine Kuhlmann and Markus Seyfried
This chapter outlines the relevance and value of comparative approaches and methods in studying Public Administration (PA). It discusses the roots and current developments of comparative research in PA and discusses various methodological venues for cross-country comparisons, such as most similar/dissimilar systems designs, the method of concomitant variation and the difference-in-difference method. Besides the description of these approaches, we highlight their conceptual value for theory-driven empirical comparative research. Drawing on selected pieces of comparative research, the chapter furthermore provides examples for the application of comparative methods in practice presenting empirical findings and highlighting strengths and weaknesses. The chapter finally emphasizes that the methodological development in comparative PA research has by far not yet reached its end, and that some future challenges need to be addressed, such as the issues of causality, generalizability, and mixed-methods approaches.