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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Nina Holm Vohnsen

The purpose of this paper is to explore and problematizes one of the oft-cited reasons why the implementation of public policy and other development initiatives goes wrong …

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore and problematizes one of the oft-cited reasons why the implementation of public policy and other development initiatives goes wrong – namely that there is a mismatch or antagonistic relationship between street-level worker’s decisions and priorities on the one hand and on the other hand the policy-makers’ or administrators’ directives and priorities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper builds on seven months of ethnographic fieldwork set in a Danish municipal unit which administered the sickness benefit legislation.

Findings

Through the reading of an ethnographic example of implementation of labour market policy this paper suggests that when policy invariably is distorted at the administrative level it is not necessarily due to lack of will among street-level workers to comply with legislation or centrally devised directives but rather because: in practice, planning and implementation are concurrent processes that continuously feed into each other; and that the concerns and the “local knowledge and practice” that guide planning-implementation do not belong to individual people but are dynamic perspectives that individual people might take up in certain situations.

Originality/value

This challenges conventional descriptions of street-level workers as a distinct group of people with distinctive concerns and attitudes to their work. The paper suggests instead the metaphor “vector of concern” to capture the way street-level workers’ changes of perspectives might cause interventions to disintegrate and evolve in potentially conflicting directions.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Karen Boll and Roderick A.W. Rhodes

3485

Abstract

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Content available
Article
Publication date: 7 December 2021

Mike Rowe and Bagga Bjerge

273

Abstract

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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