Studying Uncertainty in Decision Making by Street-Level Inspectors

  • Nadine RaaphorstEmail author


Street-level inspectors make decisions about inspectees in circumstances that are characterized by uncertainty. With control as the hallmark of top-down views on bureaucracy, uncertainty is seen as something that must be reduced to the greatest possible extent. Managerial oversight and strict rules are means by which this is typically done. Research has however shown that daily operations of bureaucracy are often characterized by uncertainty. In fact, public organizations nowadays even tolerate more uncertainty by stressing the relevance of professional judgment. This chapter offers an analytical approach to study uncertainty from a bottom-up perspective, which is illustrated by drawing on research on Dutch street-level tax officials. It shows how uncertainty is experienced and dealt with by street-level bureaucrats. Building on these insights, the chapter concludes by offering suggestions for theoretically advancing this field of study.


Street-level inspectors Bureaucratic encounter Uncertainty Bottom-up perspective 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Public AdministrationLeiden UniversityThe HagueThe Netherlands

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