Policy Implementation, Street-Level Bureaucracy, and the Importance of Discretion

LG Tummers, Victor Bekkers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

314 Citations (Scopus)
696 Downloads (Pure)


Street-level bureaucrats implementing public policies have a certain degree of autonomy – or discretion – in their work. Following Lipsky, discretion has received wide attention in the policy implementation literature. However, scholars have not developed theoretical frameworks regarding the effects of discretion, which were then tested these using large samples. This study therefore develops a theoretical framework regarding two main effects of discretion: client meaningfulness and willingness to implement. The relationships are tested using a survey among 1,300 healthcare professionals implementing a new policy. The results underscore the importance of discretion. Implications of the findings and a future research agenda is shown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-547
Number of pages21
JournalPublic Management Review (print)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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