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 17: Explaining public task performance

Peter Hupe


How can the expected relationships between what happens at the street level of government bureaucracy and its environment be grounded theoretically? The argument unfolded in this chapter maximizes the heuristic functions of the trinity of governing framework as set out in Chapter 3. In that chapter, a range of ‘multi-level’ approaches were identified. Following up on that exposition, three major types of approaches are highlighted. From each a central hypothesis is derived by making their implicit explanatory claims explicit. The hypotheses focus around, respectively, the impact of similar work circumstances, the difference individual actors make and the reach of hierarchy. Structuring the variety of relevant variables in this way draws attention to questions about the relative weight of factors deemed relevant when trying to position the street level within ‘the bigger picture’.

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