Scientific article

Can street-level bureaucrats be nudged to increase effectiveness in welfare policy?

Published inPolicy and Politics
Publication date2020

This article investigates whether street-level bureaucrats can be incentivised to process information in ways that lead to more effective implementation decisions. It draws on the literatures on behavioural public policy (BPP) and street-level bureaucracy to analyse how civil servants implement disability insurance policy in Switzerland. We conducted a field experiment to assess whether a thought-provoking nudge improves the decisional effectiveness of street-level bureaucrats (SLBs). SLBs were assigned to either a ‘business-as-usual' control condition, or to an experimental condition, where they were called to pay attention to vulnerability processes along the beneficiaries' life course when making decisions. While we did not find that the thought-provoking nudge directly improved effectiveness, we found that it increased beneficiaries' humanisation. In particular, there was some evidence for indirect positive effects of the thought-provoking nudge on effectiveness via humanisation. These findings encourage BPP researchers to consider additional dimensions such as humanisation to nudge SLBs into processing information in better ways.

  • Behavioural public policy
  • Disability policy
  • Effectiveness
  • Field experiment
  • Implementation
  • Nudge
  • Street-level bureaucrats
  • Welfare policy
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - NCCR LIves Grant N0.51NF40-160590
Citation (ISO format)
VISINTIN, Emilio Paolo et al. Can street-level bureaucrats be nudged to increase effectiveness in welfare policy? In: Policy and Politics, 2020. doi: 10.1332/030557320X15955051687823
Main files (1)
Article (Submitted version)
ISSN of the journal0305-5736

Technical informations

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