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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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Street-level bureaucrats and client interaction in a just world

Street-level bureaucrats and client interaction in a just world

(p.155) Nine Street-level bureaucrats and client interaction in a just world
Understanding street-level bureaucracy

Vicky M. Wilkins

Jeffrey B. Wenger

Policy Press

This chapter extends the research on representative bureaucracy offering a theoretical framework that identifies the conditions under which street-level bureaucrats personal values influence their interaction with clients. The framework identifies a necessary, but not sufficient condition for the link between values and behaviour to occur in the workplace. Hypotheses are provided about how several institutional arrangements will influence whether a street-level bureaucrat’s values will alter their interactions with clients. Theory suggests that a street-level bureaucrat may respond either in a compensatory way, providing restitution or prevention, or a non-compensatory way, reinterpreting the outcome or cause, or blaming the victim. These hypotheses are generated by a well-known construct in the psychological literature, namely the ‘belief in a just world’ (Lerner, 1980). While the contribution is purely theoretical, the chapter provides a roadmap for a new line of research that will aid understanding of the interactions between clients and street-level bureaucrats.

Keywords:   values, representation, client bureaucrat interaction, belief in a just world, deservingness

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