A Critical Reflection on Professionalism and Policy Entrepreneur Roles of Street-Level Bureaurcats (SLBs)
This article discusses the role and position of Street-Level Bureaucrats (SLBs) in the broad context of policy making and implementation. It is partially based on a study conducted in 2018 that produced a typological framework mapping the workflow and exercise of discretion amongst officers of the Malaysian Department of Social Welfare (DSW) who handle child welfare cases. In this revisit to the framework, the authors shed some new information into the context of the framework, particularly regarding the exercise of discretion amongst the officers. The authors explored the relationship between bureaucracy and discretion and concluded that they exist on a continuum and are not mutually exclusive. The repercussion of this is this that discretionary actions of SLBs can be interpreted as an expression of professionalism on behalf of the SLBs. The authors also argue that SLBs have the potential to act as 'policy entrepreneurs,’ innovating within their roles in improving service and policy implementation. Such reinterpretation of the status and roles of SLBs could lead to more inclusive policymaking and empowerment to the SLBs.
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