Street-Level Bias: Examining Factors Related to Street-Level Bureaucrats’ State or Citizen Favoritism

Sagi Gershgoren, Nissim Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Administration of street-level bureaucrats requires prior knowledge of what affects their use of discretion. However, there is a lack of understanding as to what influences their decision-making when choosing between claims made by the state or by its citizens. Without such knowledge, public administration at the street-level can sustain the perception that street-level bureaucrats have a state-preference bias, lowering citizens’ view of public service delivery by those perceived as the face of governance. This study focuses on decisions street-level bureaucrats make when resolving disputes between citizens and other state officials. Using real-world resolutions made over three decades by lower-court judges in Israeli civil tax disputes, the findings reveal a link between factors associated with street-level bureaucrats’ common characteristics and state favoritism in their resolutions. The findings also imply that policymakers who want to mitigate such outcomes can use citizen administrative participation-based influencers to promote street-level bureaucrats’ pro-citizen tendencies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the Editor, Stephanie Newbold, and to the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript for their insightful comments. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the Research Fund of the Open University of Israel.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • citizen administrative participation
  • discretion
  • procedural fairness
  • street-level bureaucrats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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