Active representative bureaucracy, homogeneous organizational context, and deviation from official policy among street-level bureaucrats

Hadeel Diab, Nissim Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Studies of representative bureaucracy have shown how minority groups are often underrepresented in public agencies. They also indicate that the match between the backgrounds of the bureaucrats and their clients has a strong effect on minority groups. Less attention has been devoted to the question of what happens when street-level bureaucrats (SLBs) from a minority group serve clients in organizations all of whose clients belong to the same minority group as the SLBs. How do they behave when the policies they must implement are inconsistent with their collective moral values? What dilemmas do they experience, and how do they address them? We explore these questions using the case of Arab civics teachers in Arab schools in Israel, organizations with a homogeneous work environment of minorities. Our findings contribute to the existing literature by emphasizing the importance of the organizational context. In a homogeneous work environment, it is easier for SLBs to deviate from formal policy. While they must still consider “disobeying costs” imposed by the state, the organizational mixture strengthens the legitimacy among clients, colleagues, and direct managers to deviate from official public policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-319
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Public Administration
Volume81
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • active representative bureaucracy
  • deviation from policy
  • minority groups
  • multicultural society
  • street-level bureaucrats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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