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Understanding street-level bureaucracy$
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Peter Hupe, Peter Hupe, Michael Hill, and Aurèlien Buffat

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447313267

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447313267.001.0001

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The moment of the street-level bureaucrats in a public employment service

The moment of the street-level bureaucrats in a public employment service

(p.295) Seventeen The moment of the street-level bureaucrats in a public employment service
Understanding street-level bureaucracy

Christopher Osiander

Joss Steinke

Policy Press

This chapter looks at reforms of the German public employment service which increased possibilities for discretion and reports on three studies that explored how caseworkers responded. Three important aspects of discretion are considered: room for manoeuver concerning measures of active labour market policies and outcomes of job search assistance, integration agreements between job centre and job seeker as a means to establish a contractual relationship among equals and the conflict between individual needs and the legal challenge for procedural justice. The findings suggest that caseworkers’ strategies influence labour market outcomes even if there are explicit regulations. Moreover, discretion requires both high-quality standards of counselling and experienced casewokers. Often more discretion is counteracted by internal regulations that re-establish the status quo ante to reduce uncertainty for caseworkers. Therefore, granted discretion and used discretion do not always coincide.

Keywords:   Federal Employment Agency, job counselling, job search assistance, quantitative and qualitative research, measures of active labour market policy

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