Street-Level Leadership: Discretion and Legitimacy in Front-Line Public Service

Overview

Examining public service from the perspective of the worker, this book provides a new framework for understanding the roles and responsibilities of front-line public servants and assessing the appropriateness of their actions.

Public employees who work at street level face some of the most intractable, pervasive, and complex problems in contemporary society. Drawing on more than 1500 hours of observation of police officers and social service workers in four states, this book ...

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Overview

Examining public service from the perspective of the worker, this book provides a new framework for understanding the roles and responsibilities of front-line public servants and assessing the appropriateness of their actions.

Public employees who work at street level face some of the most intractable, pervasive, and complex problems in contemporary society. Drawing on more than 1500 hours of observation of police officers and social service workers in four states, this book explores the types of situations they confront, the factors they consider, and the hard choices they make. Presenting numerous cases of how these individuals acted in various situations, the authors show how public servants translate the expectations of administrators and others into legitimate street-level action.

Vinzant and Crothers propose the concept of leadership as a positive and realistic framework for understanding what these public servants do and how they can successfully meet the dally challenges of their very difficult and complex jobs. They show how changing the theory and language we use to describe street-level work can encourage decisions that are responsive both to the needs of the clients being served and to the broader community's need for accountability. They also examine how street-level leadership can change the way agencies recruit, train, and manage these employees and how society defines their role in governance.

This book offers valuable insights for those working in or studying public administration, policy analysis, criminal justice, and social work.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Develops and illustrates a model of street-level leadership that views public service from the perspective of the worker. The chapters, which each open with a case study, look at the context of street-level public service; discretion and legitimacy in frontline public service; leadership on the street; and conclusions and implications of the street-level leadership model. The model presented considers trait theories of leadership, leadership as behavior, situational approaches to leadership, power, and the legitimization of power. Appends information about the real life situations that lie behind the case studies used in the work. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878407040
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/1998
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 The Context of Street-Level Public Service 1
2 Discretion and Legitimacy in Frontline Public Service 32
3 A Model of Street-Level Leadership 68
4 Leadership on the Street 95
5 Conclusions and Implications 137
Appendix 165
References 171
Index 181
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