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 16: Dealing with cross-country variation in the comparative study of public administration and street-level bureaucracy

Sabine Kuhlmann


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.

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