Rule Following and Discretion at Government's Frontlines: Continuity and Change during Organization Socialization

Oberfield, Zachary W.
October 2010
Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory;Oct2010, Vol. 20 Issue 4, p735
Academic Journal
The article presents a study which discusses the development of bureaucratic psychology of police officers and welfare caseworkers on default rule-following identities during socialization. The study relies on data from a longitudinal comparative case study of police officers and welfare case-workers, in which bureaucrats compared in many ways by meeting face-to-face with citizens, having significant discretion and authority figures in low-income neighborhoods. The findings show that changes and continuity during socialization of the workers had shifted to default rule-following identities. The study concludes by discussing the theoretical implications of the findings regarding bureaucrats' understandings and practical implications on how public organizations recruit and manage workforces.


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