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date: 22 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article first summarizes the foundational works in Street Level Bureaucracy Theory (SLBT) written in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Lipsky and his colleagues. Key characteristics are highlighted related to the work situation, characteristics that offer a sense for the bases of organizational and policymaking power posited by early street-level bureaucracy theorists. The article then describes the developments, extensions, and elaborations of SLBT that have occurred over the past thirty years. Finally, several current issues and trends in research on SLBT that appear most challenging and profitable to pursue in future research are discussed. Future research needs to focus more directly on how discretion is nested within rule-based systems. Street-level bureaucrats are the ‘ultimate policymakers’ in two senses: they are the final or last policymakers and they have the greatest influence.

Keywords: Street Level Bureaucracy Theory, organizational power, policymaking power, ultimate policymakers

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