Research Handbook on Street-Level Bureaucracy
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Research Handbook on Street-Level Bureaucracy

The Ground Floor of Government in Context

Edited by Peter Hupe

When the objectives of public policy programmes have been formulated and decided upon, implementation seems just a matter of following instructions. However, it is underway to the realization of those objectives that public policies get their final substance and form. Crucial is what happens in and around the encounter between public officials and individual citizens at the street level of government bureaucracy. This Research Handbook addresses the state of the art while providing a systematic exploration of the theoretical and methodological issues apparent in the study of street-level bureaucracy and how to deal with them.
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Chapter 2: Positioning street-level bureaucracy research

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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