Beyond the Front-Line: the Coping Strategies and Discretion of Lithuanian Street-Level Bureaucracy During COVID-19

Jaroslav Dvorak, Remigijus Civinskas, Gintaras Šumskas


This article presents the results of a project funded by the Research Council of Lithuania: ‘Public policy solutions and their improvement to overcome the COVID-19 crisis in Lithuanian municipalities: solution tools and service delivery.’ The research methodology is based on street-level bureaucracy theory and ongoing qualitative research in the form of interviews with social workers and doctors. Interviews were conducted in the Lithuanian municipalities which became the first COVID-19 hotspots in March-April 2020. The aim is to identify the response and coping strategies of street-level bureaucracy. The findings of current research suggest that the workload of street-level bureaucrats increased, the situation changed very rapidly, and there was a constant need to adopt rules and even recommendations issued by the ministry. Fear of COVID-19 infection, a lack of accurate information, uncertainty, and the possibility of allowing staff with children to leave the workplace led to staff shortages. This in turn motivated the administration and the remaining employees to look for suitable coping strategies.


COVID-19, street-level bureaucracy, crisis response, social workers, Lithuania

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X