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 21: Qualitative data analysis in implementation and street-level bureaucracy research

Anka Kekez


The traditional criticism of qualitative analysis is that it is subjective, opaque and impressionist. The chapter tackles the classic problem of confidence in the process and results of qualitative analysis by discussing its potential sources as well as offering solutions to each of these sources. In doing so, the chapter looks at the general practice of qualitative data work, but it especially highlights the issues and solutions of particular significance for implementation and street-level bureaucracy research. The focus is on four sets of issues: decontextualized collection and analysis of data; data overload and inadequate data retrieval; doubts about the quality of conclusions; and opaque documenting and reporting. By treating these issues as core sources of doubts in the credibility and dependability of qualitative research, the chapter offers and illustrates solutions that can be effectively employed as preventive measures or responses to shortcomings of qualitative data work.

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