Often portrayed as policymakers rather than policytakers, street-level bureaucrats play a key role in policy implementation. It is now well accepted that the implementation actions of street-level workers frequently result in outcomes that differ from those expected from formal policy. Although the adaptation of rules among street-level bureaucrats is well documented, its influence has been relatively understudied. Furthermore, the conceptualization of street-level divergence is relatively ambiguous. To explore the conditions under which divergence may contribute to a policy change, this study suggests a more-nuanced portrayal of street-level divergence, by referring to three analytical dimensions, namely, motivation, transparency, and collectivity. Data draw on street-level actions that are considered inconsistent with formal policy both among policy principals and among street-level workers, in three different policy sectors: education, health, and welfare. Findings suggest that transparent, collective, and other-serving divergence tends to trigger a policy change. A better understanding of the reciprocal relationships between street-level divergence and policy change may contribute to the coordination of the efforts of different governmental tiers as regards policymaking and the design of policy implementation.
|Original language||American English|
|Number of pages||21|
|Journal||Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory|
|State||Published - Apr 2014|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1295/12).