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Research Handbook on Street-Level Bureaucracy (2019)

(Publisher : Edward Elgard Publishing)

Author(s) : 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.


Street-level bureaucracy concerns a vital part of the ways in which public policy programmes are implemented, particularly through the relationship between public officials and individual citizens. Addressing the state of the art and providing a systematic exploration of the theoretical and methodological issues at stake, this Research Handbook is a crucial contribution to the analysis of public policy from the perspective of the ground floor of government.


The Research Handbook covers theoretical themes in current research such as institutional theory, social inequality, national culture, discrimination and representation, digitalization, and accountability. Analysing the role of teachers, police officers and other street-level bureaucrats, chapters explore how these individuals implement policies through their daily contact with citizens. Further sections investigate the methodological tools for research, as well as the future challenges facing the area. Peter Hupe concludes with lessons for the study of street-level bureaucracy and a significant research agenda for the topic.


Essential reading for researchers and students of politics, government, public administration, public management, public policy and social policy, the Research Handbook on Street-Level Bureaucracy is the defining reference for understanding public policy in action in everyday life.  

Bibliographic Information

‘Street-level bureaucracy is an established concept in the social sciences, and it might be thought difficult to find anything new and important to say about the concept. This Research Handbook demonstrates that this assumption is most definitely untrue. By emphasizing street-level bureaucracy as the “ground floor” of government, Peter Hupe and his collaborators have provided a number of new insights into the behaviour and importance of those public servants who are in day-to-day contact with citizens. Anyone who wants to understand the impact of government on those citizens must read the chapters in this volume.’

– B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh, US


‘This Research Handbook maps the now-sprawling and diverse scholarly world of research on frontline work and the encounters between governing authority and the publics served, surveilled and disenfranchised. The Research Handbook is a Who’s Who of international scholars exploring this territory and covers the full range of current topics, from theory to methods and emerging questions. It begins and ends with insightful introductory and concluding chapters by Peter Hupe, the editor. Hupe frames the diverse contributions of the Research Handbook authors while providing guideposts for future research. For students and scholars, this Research Handbook is essential reading, a touchstone.’

– Steven Maynard-Moody, University of Kansas, US


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