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Discretion in the decision-making practices of public servants: a case study of the habitual residence condition in Ireland

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dc.contributor.advisor Haynes, Amanda
dc.contributor.advisor Power, Martin J. Ryan, Majka Monika 2018-07-27T13:31:22Z 2018-07-27T13:31:22Z 2017
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract This interpretive study explores how decision-makers in welfare institutions deploy discretion. This thesis is based on a case study of decision-making on the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC). Citing the need to safeguard against ‘welfare tourism’, on May 1st 2004 Ireland introduced the HRC as an additional criterion for eligibility to social assistance payments. The HRC creates a unique context of discretionary decision-making where a substantial degree of freedom in decision-making is organisationally authorised and legislatively required. Through analysis of experiences reported by the current or former staff at the Department of Social Protection (including Community Welfare Service) and the Social Welfare Appeals Office, I reveal how these decision-makers deploy discretion in the context of this ambiguous piece of legislation (the HRC). Through analysis of norms, values and beliefs that decision-makers adhere to, I examine their approach to discretion and rules, and uncover what factors determine those approaches. Finally, I also explore how the HRC is operationalised by decision-makers from varied occupational and organisational backgrounds. This thesis contributes to the existing body of theory conceptualising discretion in the decision-making practices of public servants. Drawing on Oakeshott’s (1975) conceptualisation, this thesis reveals two key approaches to discretion from the point of view of decision-makers: nomocratic and telocratic. I argue that both approaches are internalised through organisational socialisation, and find that those approaches are the ways in which decision-makers’ understand what constitutes a valid rule, and subsequently how they understand the role of those rules in their daily practice. Those approaches also reflect ways of conceptualising discretion and the legitimacy of this autonomy in the decision-making process. I conclude that factors such as the traditional organisational attitude towards clients, the core objective of decision-makers’ role, and internalised moral economies, shape and give meaning to how decision-makers deploy discretion. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject decision-makers en_US
dc.subject welfare institutions en_US
dc.subject public servants en_US
dc.title Discretion in the decision-making practices of public servants: a case study of the habitual residence condition in Ireland en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/doctoralThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.contributor.sponsor IRC en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess en_US

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