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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services, a classic work by Michael Lipsky that describes what the street-level bureaucrats (SLBs) in charge of delivering public services actually do in terms of policy implementation and how their actions differ from the policy pronouncements of central-level planners. Lipsky identifies the limits of central control over SLBs’ behavior and proposes alternative strategies for holding them accountable for their actions. Before illuminating the analytic and practice relevance of street-level bureaucracy, the chapter outlines the core features of the theory of SLBs and considers its key contributions to the field of public policy analysis. In particular, it discusses how Lipsky’s book linked public administration work to public policy and political science. Finally, the chapter analyzes the nature of administrative discretion and its political consequences, as well as how SLBs can be better supported to offer public value.

Keywords: Street-Level Bureaucracy, Michael Lipsky, public services, public policy, public administration, political science, administrative discretion

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