Street-level Bureaucrats: Can they deliver?
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This paper used Social Exchange Theory as a lens for examining the impact of the supervisor-subordinate relationship on different types of street-level bureaucrats' (SLB) perceptions of autonomy and in turn, role clarity. The findings challenge Lipsky's (1980) theory about the autonomy of Australian SLBs because nurse and police SLBs felt only somewhat autonomous in the workplace. Moreover, they are at best only slightly satisfied with their supervision but their supervision practices significantly affect their perceptions of autonomy as well as their levels of role clarity. The findings therefore indicate that present management practices are not ideal for promoting effective workplace relationships or for addressing the current skills shortage. By contrast, private sector nurses were found to have comparatively higher levels of satisfaction with supervisor-subordinate relationships and therefore of autonomy and consequently, of role clarity. The implications for public sector managers responsible for ensuring SLBs do have the conditions in place to deliver appropriate services to the Australian public are discussed.
BAM Conference Proceedings
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Human Resources Management