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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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Law enforcement behaviour of regulatory inspectors

Law enforcement behaviour of regulatory inspectors

(p.115) Seven Law enforcement behaviour of regulatory inspectors
Understanding street-level bureaucracy

Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen

Policy Press

Law enforcement is a central state activity and regulatory inspectors are its street-level agent. They judge compliance, impose sanctions, and exempt individuals and businesses from penalties. Many job characteristics are common to service producing and regulatory street-level bureaucrats, but others are significantly different. This chapter defines regulatory inspection and its central characteristics, and presents concepts understand the behaviour of the regulatory inspectors. Particular focus are on the need of conceptually differentiating between characteristics of the actions of the regulatory inspector and those related to the interactions between the inspector and the regulatee, since – as discussed – the dynamics of the interaction affects the inspector’s discretionary choices of enforcement. The chapter contributes by giving evidence to an “interaction, and hence client matters”-hypothesis in explaining street-level bureaucrats’ discretionary choices. Street-level bureaucratic behaviour is however a complex phenomenon, therefore the “interaction matters” hypothesis is only a supplement to hypotheses like “organization matters”, “management matters” and “policy matters”.

Keywords:   regulatory inspectors, law enforcement, enforcement behaviour, interaction behaviour, client characteristics

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