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March 8, 2005
2 figures, 30 tables
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v2.1 Reference

How Management Matters

Street-Level Bureaucrats and Welfare Reform

Both "bureaucracy" and "bureaucrats" have taken on a pejorative hue over the years, but does the problem lie with those on the "street-level"—those organizations and people the public deals with directly—or is it in how they are managed? Norma Riccucci knows that management matters, and she addresses a critical gap in the understanding of public policy by uniquely focusing on the effects of public management on street-level bureaucrats.

How Management Matters examines not only how but where public management matters in government organizations. Looking at the 1996 welfare reform law (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, or PRWORA), Riccucci examines the law's effectiveness in changing the work functions and behaviors of street-level welfare workers from the role of simply determining eligibility of clients to actually helping their clients find work. She investigates the significant role of these workers in the implementation of welfare reform, the role of public management in changing the system of welfare under the reform law, and management's impact on results—in this case ensuring the delivery of welfare benefits and services to eligible clients.

Over a period of two years, Riccucci traveled specifically to eleven different cities, and from interviews and a large national survey, she gathered quantitative results from cities in such states as New York, Texas, Michigan, and Georgia, that were selected because of their range of policies, administrative structures, and political cultures. General welfare data for all fifty states is included in this rigorous analysis, demonstrating to all with an interest in any field of public administration or public policy that management does indeed matter.

About the Author

Norma M. Riccucci is a professor in the Graduate Department of Public Administration at Rutgers University, Newark; and author of Managing Diversity in Public Sector Workforces and Unsung Heroes: Federal Execucrats Making a Difference.


"If a theory of management must build on what happens when operational reality confronts the traditional structures of hierarchical authority—can we make a case that management matters and, more important, how it matters? Riccucci provides a first valuable piece to the puzzle. Her terrific book adds to the important and growing literature on the management of welfare reform."—Journal of Policy Analysis & Management


"All the 'sound and fury' of welfare reform and public management research will 'signify little' unless street-level workers respond with changes in their norms, judgments, and actions. Norma Riccucci's How Management Matters takes us beyond stereotypes and into the complex relationship between managers and workers. This engaging book will change the way scholars think about policy implementation and public management and open new doors of understanding for policy and management students."—Steven Maynard-Moody, director of the Policy Research Institute, University of Kansas

"In this timely and very important book, public managers can learn when, where, and how they can best influence the behavior of street-level workers. Riccucci shows how these workers are influenced by and responsive to a complex mix of factors, and finds that front-line workers may be more open to management direction than previously assumed, particularly when it is based on open, participatory approaches. Given the critical role that street-level workers play in delivering services to the public, Riccucci's analysis contains highly valuable and insightful lessons for public managers and policymakers alike."—Janet Denhardt, professor of public affairs, Arizona State University

"Riccucci's work is part of a growing body of important work that illuminates the world of the front-line worker and the complexities that frame workers' exercise of discretion. This book provides valuable insights into the complex arena of welfare reform as experienced and implemented at the level of the front-line worker. It highlights the tensions workers experience when faced with meeting the goal of helping families and the demands for accountability and documentation and sheds light on the roles of professional norms and occupational cultures in shaping workers' client interactions."—Barbara S. Romzek, associate dean for social sciences and professor of public administration, University of Kansas

Georgetown University Press
Public Management and Change

9781589010413 : how-management-matters-riccucci
Paperback / softback
224 Pages
$29.95 USD

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Public Administration

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Unsung Heroes

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