Business, Management, and Economics

The high-quality academic books, upper-level student texts and journal articles on our Business, Management and Economics list offer fresh perspectives on the economy, the future of work and organisations, and the relationship between business and addressing global social challenges.  

The list is home to a number of series including Organizations and Activism and Feminist Perspectives on Work and Organization, all of which are edited by leading scholars from the field, along with our journals in the area: Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, Work in the Global Economy and Global Political Economy.

Business, Management and Economics

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Mental health has become a major challenge in late modern societies. This chapter describes the scale of the challenge in the work context. It provides a background of the recent history on how psychological malaise and emotional distress have emerged as a central concern in the labour market. It provides a starting point to understand why the mental vitality and strength of the workforce has a far more psychological- and mental-health-focused character in current professional and non-professional culture than in earlier societies. This chapter concludes that to understand the recently arrived wave of mental health problems and mental fitness concerns among working populations we need to rethink the fundamental assumptions and interrelationships concerning psyche, emotions, work, disability and health. We also need to move away from dominating individualistic mental health frameworks and carefully analyse the role mental health plays in the current labour market and culture.

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Most research on street-level bureaucracy has historically been conducted in countries generally characterised by high levels of administrative capacity, professional bureaucracies, stable rules of law, and in industrialised and often liberal democratic societies. However, most of the world’s street-level bureaucrats work under very different social and institutional conditions. Politicised bureaucracies, low social trust in government, systematic corruption, precarious labour conditions, and limited state capacities are common traits of bureaucracies in developing countries and post-authoritarian regimes. The contributions in this book explore how such institutional conditions affect street-level bureaucracies, public service delivery, policy implementation, and law enforcement. Often, significant gaps appear in the alignment between street-level practices on the one hand and formal rules, guidelines, and policy designs on the other hand. Institutional deficiencies are often left unresolved and subsequently pushed towards the street level, where public servants must deal with them in diverse ways. Thus, citizens are as likely to encounter transit police officers seeking a bribe as they find primary school teachers investing their time and money to provide the best education possible under challenging conditions. Thereby, this book also complements our current understanding of street-level bureaucracy and challenges implicit assumptions about professionalism, state capacity, and trust in government common for advanced democracies.

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This chapter focuses on the transformation of occupational health and the surge of mental health perspectives since the 1960s through three social arenas. First, this chapter analyses how the central paradigm of modern occupational health, work stress research, developed into a dominant perspective structuring wellbeing at work, and what kind of built-in assumptions it produced about psychological wellbeing and human characteristics. The second part of the chapter describes the emergence of psychosocial risks of work and mental health in media by analysing the largest newspaper in the Nordic countries and a widely circulated women’s magazine. It analyses how the problems of the psyche came to the fore in occupational health publicity when the problems of the middle class in working life grew and new challenges began to be identified. The third part summarizes key research findings derived from extensive interview data of occupational health professionals (especially doctors) with long-term work experience. These analyses show how changes in work conditions and occupational structure as well as the liberalization of reflexive psycho-emotional character fuelled the emergence of mental vulnerability in the medical practice.

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Frontline work in weak state institutions is influenced by administrative, political, social, and professional factors that make SLBs face more complex conditions to carry out their jobs. One of the primary sources of complexity and ambiguity for SLBs is their interaction with citizens. Previous studies have contributed to understanding how uncertainty affects SLBs while interacting with citizens. However, the relationship between bureaucratic encounters and frontline work in weak institutional contexts remain understudied. This chapter focuses on bureaucratic encounters in weak institutional contexts and how citizens develop their agency through repeated interactions with SLBs. Drawing on qualitative data on the implementation of a CCT programme in Mexico, the chapter argues that repeated interactions between citizens and SLBs reduce ambiguity and uncertainty. However, paradoxically, this process increases complexity for SLBs because it increases citizens’ capacity to act as agents.

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Most research on street-level bureaucracy has historically been conducted in countries generally characterised by high levels of administrative capacity, professional bureaucracies, stable rules of law, and in industrialised and often liberal democratic societies. However, most of the world’s street-level bureaucrats work under very different social and institutional conditions. Politicised bureaucracies, low social trust in government, systematic corruption, precarious labour conditions, and limited state capacities are common traits of bureaucracies in developing countries and post-authoritarian regimes. The contributions in this book explore how such institutional conditions affect street-level bureaucracies, public service delivery, policy implementation, and law enforcement. Often, significant gaps appear in the alignment between street-level practices on the one hand and formal rules, guidelines, and policy designs on the other hand. Institutional deficiencies are often left unresolved and subsequently pushed towards the street level, where public servants must deal with them in diverse ways. Thus, citizens are as likely to encounter transit police officers seeking a bribe as they find primary school teachers investing their time and money to provide the best education possible under challenging conditions. Thereby, this book also complements our current understanding of street-level bureaucracy and challenges implicit assumptions about professionalism, state capacity, and trust in government common for advanced democracies.

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How do police officers cope, both behaviourally and emotionally, with the double challenge of precarious working conditions and a dangerous social context? And how does this impact the nature of law enforcement and the police’s interactions with citizens? In this chapter, we discuss the case of the municipal police of Morelia, a large city in central Mexico, among the world’s 50 most dangerous cities, and where municipal police officers face shortages in basic materials, receive low salaries, work long shifts, and have limited training and psychological support. Based on original interviews with police officers and complementary document analysis, we demonstrate that such conditions can lead them to move away from dangerous situations, act out aggressively towards citizens, and rely on colleague support and substance abuse to deal with their everyday reality at work. Their response to social and institutional complexities fundamentally changes the face of law enforcement and leaves police officers to fend for their own physical survival and mental health.

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This chapter discusses the core nature of mental vulnerability through three groups of workers of late modern society: knowledge workers, young employees and female employees. They are often seen as problematic groups in studies of work disability related to mental health. First, the illusory autonomy of knowledge workers and the system-based nature of their workload are investigated and discussed. Second, the challenges of mental health and the typical characteristics of vulnerability among young working adults are analysed using extensive interview material. The cultural typology of mental health characters describes the sources and nature of mental vulnerability among them. At the end of the chapter, the role of gender as a watershed of mental vulnerability is analysed. According to the results, not only work conditions but the ways of emotional management vary according to sub-cultures of work. Due to the gendered structure of labour market and group-specific socio-emotional codes, the phenomenon viewed as mental health is quite different between men and women, both in terms of background and manifestation. The chapter illustrates how the foundation of mental vulnerability arises from different material and subjective frameworks, emphasizing its contextual nature.

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Most research on street-level bureaucracy has historically been conducted in countries generally characterised by high levels of administrative capacity, professional bureaucracies, stable rules of law, and in industrialised and often liberal democratic societies. However, most of the world’s street-level bureaucrats work under very different social and institutional conditions. Politicised bureaucracies, low social trust in government, systematic corruption, precarious labour conditions, and limited state capacities are common traits of bureaucracies in developing countries and post-authoritarian regimes. The contributions in this book explore how such institutional conditions affect street-level bureaucracies, public service delivery, policy implementation, and law enforcement. Often, significant gaps appear in the alignment between street-level practices on the one hand and formal rules, guidelines, and policy designs on the other hand. Institutional deficiencies are often left unresolved and subsequently pushed towards the street level, where public servants must deal with them in diverse ways. Thus, citizens are as likely to encounter transit police officers seeking a bribe as they find primary school teachers investing their time and money to provide the best education possible under challenging conditions. Thereby, this book also complements our current understanding of street-level bureaucracy and challenges implicit assumptions about professionalism, state capacity, and trust in government common for advanced democracies.

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This chapter analyses the implementation conditions of one of Chile’s central social protection system programmes: the Families programme. Successor to the Puente Programme (2002–2011) and the Ethical Family Income (2011–2016), the Families programme consists of preferential access to state social programmes, conditional and unconditional cash transfers, and a psychosocial support component for families living in situations of extreme poverty. This programme is Chile’s most significant state action in the ‘fight against poverty’. However, despite almost 20 years of experience, the highly precarious working conditions of the professionals who implement the programme and the territorial differences in implementation conditions are critical and persistent issues discussed in this chapter. Based on the findings from 17 individual and six group interviews with frontline professionals who implement the Families programme in six municipalities and the descriptive results of a nationally representative survey of frontline professionals implementing the programme, we discuss how weak institutions – specifically administrative/organisational and professional factors – contribute to undesired policy outcomes. We conclude the chapter by reflecting on the challenges of implementing social policies in weak institutional contexts and suggest recommendations for policymakers.

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The contributions in this volume explore how structurally adverse working conditions that prevail in many places affect street-level bureaucrats’ (SLBs) decisions and behaviour and how they, consequently, shape the everyday experience of law enforcement, policy implementation, and public service provision for citizens worldwide. In this concluding chapter, we formulate several key lessons and findings from the preceding chapters. Furthermore, we outline what we believe to be the main contributions of the book and add some concluding remarks on the crucial role of SLBs in advancing the functioning of public administrations in weak institutional settings. Finally, we offer a comment on avenues for future research, including identifying the conditions under which frontline workers can constructively perform the role of brokers, understanding the institutional preconditions and vulnerabilities for frontline working conditions, analysing the consequences of democratic backsliding, and including the citizen’s perspective of policy implementation and street-level interactions.

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