Use Of Discretion By Bureaucratic Managers In The High Country

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Carson Samuel Jennings (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Adam Newmark

Abstract: In the State of North Carolina, county departments of social services help provide their clients with the necessary tools for day to day life. These bureaucratic agencies are regulated by county, state, and federal governments but are primarily overseen by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS, hereafter DHHS), which sets guidelines and policy to be dispensed at the county level. In addition to these guidelines, it was believed that the next greatest influence on policy outcomes from bureaucratic agencies came from the discretionary decision-making practices of street-level bureaucrats through client processing procedures. However, research conducted by Hupe and van Kooten (2015) brought to light the idea that first-line bureaucratic supervisors, those only one or two places removed from client interaction, wielded discretionary authority that can greatly impact the implementation of policy by their subordinates. In the context of North Carolina social services departments, directors and supervisors serve as these first-line bureaucrats. Such theories beg the question of how discretionary choices made by directors and supervisors affect policy outcomes as a whole. To what extent do North Carolina laws and regulations leave room for county-level department directors and supervisors to utilize their discretion concerning policy implementation? In this research, it is shown that in the context of High Country Social Services Organizations, first-line supervisors engage in rule processing behavior that can be categorized as either strengthening, augmenting, or passing-on. Furthermore, when addressing the reasoning behind their processing mechanisms, respondents indicated a variety of desiderata that lead me to conclude that first-line supervisors' discretionary decision-making should be viewed as an individual-specific equation, with variables changing with each person.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Jennings, C. (2020). Use Of Discretion By Bureaucratic Managers In The High Country. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2020
discretion, rule-processing, First-line, Managers, High Country, North Carolina

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