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
Pages (from-to)115-133
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

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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