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 10: Dealing with hybridization in street-level bureaucracy research

Tanja Klenk and Nissim Cohen


As a result of several waves of public sector reforms, street-level bureaucrats have to cope with an increasingly hybrid working environment. New governance models have been layered on top of already existing models: ideas of privatized and managerialized service delivery, grounded in the New Public Management paradigm, co-exist with ideas of collaboration and co-production featured by the New Public Governance model. Thus, street-level bureaucrats are confronted with conflicting and often contradictory values and rationalities in their working environment. This chapter explores the implications this increasing ambiguity has for the conceptualization and research of street-level bureaucracy and suggests studying street-level bureaucracy through the analytical lens of a hybridity approach. The main argument put forward is that typologies and frameworks developed in this strand of literature allow us to disentangle hybridity, to better capture the divergence of the responses of street-level bureaucrats towards institutional pluralism and to understand variation in policy outcomes.

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