Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Urban Affairs


Urban and Public Affairs

First Advisor

Edith Barrett


Scholarly literature on policy implementation at the street-level generally focuses on how workers act in response to external pressures. Pressures can include policy rules, organizational culture, and the identities of the clients. Academia has produced scant work, however, examining how the identities and backgrounds of street-level bureaucrats influence their approach to the discretion inherent in their jobs. This study seeks to fill that literary gap. Using semi-structured interviews with street-level bureaucrats in North Texas, the study yields two strong relationships. First, a relationship exists between the participants' socioeconomic backgrounds as children and how they approach discretion inherent to street-level bureaucracy. Secondly, certain family values stressed by participants' parents relate with a common approach to bureaucratic discretion. The family's decision making process, in particular, showed the most significant relationship with what guided workers in their decision making process, how they used creativity at work, and whether or not they admitted to changing or ignoring policy. The findings call for an expansion of academic research into street-level bureaucratic discretion.


Public Affairs | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington