© 2019

The Case Against Bureaucratic Discretion


  • Identifies the imperative of electoral checks on “deep state” power

  • Elevates awareness of unaccountable governmental power

  • Highlights the threat organizational norms may pose to democratic accountability


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Theory

  3. Application

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 101-101
    2. Steven G. Koven
      Pages 167-198
  4. Conclusions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 199-199
    2. Steven G. Koven
      Pages 201-221
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 223-238

About this book


This book explores contemporary and historical examples of bureaucratic discretion to describe a continuum of resistance to authoritative directives by hierarchical superiors. Resistance ranges from blind obedience or complete nonresistance to street-level opposition; in between these extremes, however, are minimal compliance and resistance sanctioned by immediate superiors. Although politicians may pass legislation, the subject of bureaucratic implementation or lack thereof remains an area of vital concern. Grounded in administrative theory (beginning with Woodrow Wilson’s seminal discussion of the virtue of adopting a businesslike approach to American governing) and emphasizing the power of street-level bureaucrats, the aim of this book is to expand awareness of the potentially dangerous power of insulated bureaucrats. 


Bureacracy Public Administration Theory Democratic Accountability Control of information Rationalization of Autonomy Law enforcement Resistance to hierarchy Organization Culture Public Sector Ethics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisville, KYUSA

About the authors

Steven G. Koven is Professor of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Louisville, USA. He is author or co-author of ten books and many journal articles. 

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking