‘Street-level bureaucracy, management and the corrupted world of service’

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Lipsky’s analysis of the implementation gap in welfare policy in ‘Street-level Bureaucracy’ focuses on the problem front-line discretion but ‘brackets off’ the discretion of senior managers. In this paper I draw on a qualitative study to argue that senior managers can also exercise significant discretion and that their discretion can contribute to the conditions of policy confusion and contradiction, and resource inadequacy that characterise ‘the corrupted world of service’ of front line discretion. In this context front line discretion is may be used by front line staff to bridge the policy implementation gap created by senior managers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-615
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Early online date11 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • street-level bureaucracy, discretion, managers, Lipksy, managerialism
  • discretion
  • managerialism
  • Lipsky
  • managers

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