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Politicians, Managers, and Street-Level Bureaucrats: Influences on Policy Implementation

Peter J. May and Søren C. Winter
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory: J-PART
Vol. 19, No. 3 (Jul., 2009), pp. 453-476
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29738956
Page Count: 24
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Politicians, Managers, and Street-Level Bureaucrats: Influences on Policy Implementation
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Abstract

This article addresses the influence of politicians, managers, and the dispositions of street-level bureaucrats in shaping actions at the frontlines of policy implementation. We investigate these for the implementation of employment policy reforms in Denmark. Our findings show a large percentage of caseworkers emphasizing actions that are consistent with the national employment reform goal of getting clients into jobs quickly. The influence of politicians and managers in bringing this about is relatively limited in comparison to the influences of caseworkers' understanding of policy goals, their professional knowledge, and their policy predispositions. Our main contribution is an unpacking of the political and managerial influences on caseworkers' policy emphases. We find direct effects and, more notably, indirect effects that operate on the influence of caseworkers' perceptions of policy goals and their knowledge. These findings provide a more nuanced and positive assessment than much of the implementation literature of the way that higher level policies are translated into actions at the frontlines.

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