The Ground Floor of Government in Context
Edited by Peter Hupe
Chapter 23: Networks as unit of analysis in street-level bureaucracy research
Whereas street-level officers increasingly operate in multi-disciplinary inter-organizational teams, there is only limited research on how their decision-making is shaped by such collaboration. Based on the argument that street-level bureaucracy literature shows conceptual and methodological gaps to facilitate the analysis of inter-organizational (in)formal networks in street-level decision-making, this chapter shows how network literature can be used to analyse how street-level work is impacted by inter-organizational collaboration. Network literature concerns, for instance, following people/policy in network ethnography, social feedback theory, social network analysis and the notion of ‘experimentalist governance’. As an illustration, these insights are applied to the findings of a recent study of how semi-professionals in law enforcement and social care organizations tackle criminal exploitation of minors in the Netherlands. By doing so, the chapter illustrates that insights from network literature can indeed increase our understanding of the role of inter-organizational (in)formal networks in the behaviour of street-level bureaucrats ‘on the ground’.
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