Handling stress during policy implementation: Developing a classification of “coping” by frontline workers based on a systematic review

LG Tummers, Victor Bekkers, Evelien Vink, M Musheno

Research output: Working paperAcademic

Abstract

Stress is endemic to street-level work. How frontline workers handle conflicting pressures and changes in their environment bears substantially on policy performance and the delivery of human services. ‘Coping’ is the current term for understanding frontline workers responses to stress. Coping in the field of policy implementation is a sensitizing concept, not yet harmonized with extensive coping literature in clinical psychology nor operationalized to enable its measurement of its prevalence in the context of policy implementation. This paper takes steps to close that gap. Our main objective is to define coping and build a classification model. To this end, we conduct a systematic review of the literature on coping during policy implementation. After discussing ways that technology and new forms of public administration may bear on coping, we build a classification model of coping during policy implementation, comprised of three main families of coping (negotiation, problem solving and opposition) and multiple ways of coping (such as blaming others, routinizing services and whistleblowing). Our ultimate goal is to operationalize coping in the context of frontline work so that it can advance our understanding of human service delivery and serve as a diagnostic tool for practitioners seeking to improve policy performance as everyday practice.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPrague
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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