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Enhancing responsiveness and consistency: Comparing the collective use of discretion and discretionary room at inspectorates in England and the Netherlands

By S.I. (Suzanne) Rutz, D. (Dinah) Mathew, P.B.M. (Paul) Robben and A.A. (Antoinette) de Bont


Discretion used to be considered a feature of individuals, but growing literature shows that it has collective features as well. To develop an understanding of the individual and cooperative work of inspectors in using discretion and the discretionary room granted to them, we compared two inspectorates: the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England and the Joint Inspectorate for Youth (JIY) in the Netherlands. Our analysis reveals that inspectors engage with colleagues, managers, and stakeholders to include other perspectives, gain mandate, and broaden their repertoire. At the CQC, inspectors use their discretion collectively; on their own initiative, they involve others in balancing and interpreting rules to reach judgments. At the JIY, teamwork is central and regulatory teams are granted collective discretionary room. We argue that collective work permits both responsiveness and consistency. In studying the judgments of inspectors and other street-level bureaucrats, it is vital to look at collective work and how it combines consistency and responsiveness

Topics: Discretion, Discretionary room, Inspectors, Regulation, Street-level bureaucrats
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1111/rego.12101
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