Interactive policy processes: A challenge for street-level bureaucrats

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Street-level bureaucrats (SLB) are, according to the literature, assigned a crucial role providing better policy implementation and generating trust between the system and the citizens. In this article, we argue that Lipsky’s division between public managers and SLB needs an update. Today more public managers are expected to work closely and directly with affected stakeholders in order to solve cross-cutting ‘wicked problems’. More interactive and participative collaborative policy processes increasingly require public managers to move from back-office work to front-office work, in effect converting public managers to SLB. The key question raised is thus: What kind of skills and capabilities of SLB are needed in more interactive forms of public policy making? And what are the consequences for how the universities educate these groups?’ Drawing on a study of 32 urban professionals that work in the frontline in deprived neighbourhoods, we scrutinize what challenges and dilemmas the professionals face in their work with interactive processes. By differing between ‘academic specialists’ and ‘academic generalists’ we are capable to pinpoint more precisely which skills are needed for each of these groups in order to secure transparent processes that keep the rule of law and that support well-functioning local communities – or in more broad terms: skills needed to secure democracy and economic efficiency.
TidsskriftScandinavian Journal of Public Administration
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)89-108
Antal sider20
StatusUdgivet - 23 mar. 2018


  • street-level bureaucrats
  • skills
  • capacities

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