Søren C. Winter

SFI - The Danish National Centre for Social Research

Herluf Trolles Gade 11
Copenhagen K
scw@sfi.dk |  Visit Personal Website

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Winter's research focuses on various aspects of implementation, including the roles of policy design and organizational design, networks, management, street-level bureaucrats, target groups, and effects on service delivery and outcomes/performance. Current projects examine manageri's responses to policy and management reforms and the role of managers in implementing policy reforms in education, including change management and the effects of school management on teaching, student performance and well-being. Recent projects focus on the implementation of policies on employment, vulnerable children and integration.

"Street-Level Bureaucrats and Regulatory Deterrence." Winter, Søren C. and Peter J. May, in Michael Hill, Aurélien Buffat and Peter Hupe (eds.). Undertsnading Street-Level Bureaucracy. Bristol: Policy Press. 2015, pp. 133-152.
"Street-Level Bureaucrats as Individual Policy Makers: The Relationship between Attitudes and Coping Behavior towards Vulnerable Children and Youth." Baviskar, Siddhartha and Søren C. Winter. International Public Management Journal. Online 2016.
Abstract: Lipsky (1980) pointed out that street-level bureaucrats (SLBs) are important policymakers due to the discretion they exercise and argued from a structural perspective that these workers manifest relatively similar coping behaviors owing to their shared working conditions characterized by chronically limited resources and nonvoluntary clients. Using data from a national survey of municipal child welfare caseworkers in Denmark, we further develop Lipsky’s theory from an agency perspective by focusing on variation in coping among SLBs and examining the extent to which such variation is explained by SLBs’ attitudes towards the target group, the objectives and content of their jobs, and their perceptions of the capacity of their institutions. We find that SLBs’ aversion to and tolerance of the client group, their perceptions of institutional capacity in terms of municipal resources and local political inefficacy and their conceptual modification of job contents are all related to their use of coping.
URL: http://http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10967494.2016.1235641
"How Should We Estimate the Performance Effect of Management? Comparing Impacts of Public Managers' and Front-line Employees' Perceptions of Management." Favero, Nathan, Simon Calmar Andersen, Kenneth J. Meier, Laurence O'Toole Jr., and Søren C. Winter. International Public Management Journal. On-line 2016.
Abstract: Many areas of public management research are dominated by a top-focused perspective in which emphasis is placed on the notion that managers themselves are usually the best sources of information about managerial behavior. Outside of the leadership literature, managers are also the typical survey respondents in public management studies. An alternative perspective on management can be provided by subordinates’ perceptions of what management is doing. Surveys of subordinates and of managers each pose potential advantages and potential disadvantages when it comes to measuring management, and each approach is likely to prove more fruitful for measuring certain management functions. Using a unique data set of parallel surveys on management with managers and their subordinates as respondents, we examine the differences and relationships between Danish school managers’ and teachers’ perceptions of management functions and the implications of such relationships for organizational performance. We find a surprisingly low correlation between manager and teacher responses regarding the same management functions. Teacher responses are better predictors of student performance for management aspects that are visible to and mediated by teachers. However, manager responses better predict performance for manager expectations that are less visible to employees.
DOI: 10.1080/10967494.2016.1236763
Meier, Kenneth J., Simon Calmar Andersen, Laurence J. O'Toole, Jr. Nathan Favero, and Søren C. Winter. 2015. "Taking Managerial Context Seiously: Public Management and Performance in U.S. and Denmark Schools." International Public Management Journal 18(1): 130-50.
Abstract: While recent research has shown that management matters, we know very little about the role of national contexts in shaping management effects on performance. We address this issue by comparing the impact of management of similar organizations—schools—in very different national contexts, the unitary and corporatist Denmark and the fragmented, adversarial Texas. We hypothesize that external as well as internal management matter more in Texas than Denmark. This is because Texas principals can gain power by negotiating the adversarial system, while the corporatist influence of teachers reduces the decision authority of principals in Denmark through collective agreements and important shop stewards. Based on combinations of parallel surveys of school principals and archival data on student performance, we confirm that aspects of both external and internal management matter substantially in Texas while having virtually no effect in Denmark. We therefore suggest that public management research should pay more attention to the role of context.
DOI: 10.1080/10967494.2014.972485
Winter, Søren C. and Peter J. May. 2015. "Street-Level Bureaucrats and Regulatory Deterrence," pp. 133-52 in Peter Hupe, Michael Hill, and Aurélien Buffat (eds). Understanding Streetevel Bureaucracy. Bristol: The Policy Press.
Abstract: This chapter considers the role of street-level bureaucrats in regulatory deterrence. The empirical foci are the degrees and ways with which regulatory inspectors shape regulated entities’ perceptions that noncompliance will be detected. These are examined using data about the enforcement of and compliance with Danish agro-environmental regulations. The findings highlight the importance of awareness of rules in conditioning the effects of inspectors’ deterrent actions including frequency, duration and targeting of inspections as well as inspectors’ threats. Other findings show how given the difficulty of assessing the detection risk, regulated entities use various heuristics regarding competence of inspectors, fairness of inspection, and trust in others that affect their perceptions of the likelihood of violations being detected. These results underscore the importance of fair and competent inspection for improving compliance. More generally, the chapter demonstrates the roles street-level bureaucrats fulfill on the frontlines of regulatory enforcement.
Meier, Kenneth J, Søren C.Winter, Laurence O'Toole Jr., Nathan Favero, and Simon Calmar Anderen. 2015."The Validity of Subjective Performance Measures: School Principals in Texas and Denmark." Public Administration Advance access.
Abstract: Public management studies are increasingly using survey data on managers’ perceptions of performance to measure organizational performance. These perceptual measures are tempting to apply because archival performance data or surveys of target group outcomes and satisfaction are often lacking, costly to provide, and are highly policy specific rendering generalization difficult. But are perceptual performance measures valid, and do they generate unbiased findings? We examine these questions in a comparative study of middle managers in schools in Texas and Denmark. The findings are remarkably similar. Managers systematically overestimate the performance of their organizations, perceptual performance is only weakly associated with archival performance, and managers do not provide sophisticated assessment of performance by giving their organization credit for the constraints it meets or discounting the resources it has. Even worse, the use of perceptual performance measures seems to provide biased estimates when examining how management affects performance. This is due to both random measurement error and common source bias.
DOI: doi: 10.1111/padm.12180
Søren C. Winter. "Implementation," introduction to section V on Implementation in B. Guy Peters and Jon Pierre (eds.): Handbook of Public Administration, 2nd ed. New York/London: Sage Publications 2012.
Søren C. Winter. "Implementation Perspectives: Status and Reconsideration, " Ch. 16 in B. Guy Peters and Jon Pierre (eds.): Handbook of Public Administration, 2nd ed. New York/London: Sage Publications. 2012.
May, Peter J. and Søren C. Winter. 2011. "Regulatory Enforcement Styles," (with Peter J. May) in Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen and Christine Parker (eds.), Explaining Compliance. Edward Elgar (In press).
Abstract: Examines and reconsiders the research on regulatory enforcement styles at the front-lines.
May, Peter J. and Søren C. Winter. 2009. "Politicians, Managers, and Street-Level Bureaucrats: Influence on Policy Implementation." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 19 (3): 453-476.
Abstract: This article addresses the influence of politicians, managers, and the dispositions of streetlevel bureaucrats in shaping actions at the frontlines of policy implementation. We investigate these for the implementation of employment policy reforms in Denmark. Our findings show a large percentage of caseworkers emphasizing actions that are consistent with the national employment reform goal of getting clients into jobs quickly. The influence ofrnpoliticians and managers in bringing this about is relatively limited in comparison to the influences of caseworkers? understanding of policy goals, their professional knowledge, and their policy predispositions. Our main contribution is an unpacking of the political and managerial influences on caseworkers? policy emphases. We find direct effects and, more notably, indirect effects that operate on the influence of caseworkers? perceptions of policy goals and their knowledge. These findings provide a more nuanced and positive assessment than much of the implementation literature of the way that higher level policies are translated into actions at the frontlines.
URL: http://jpart.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/3/453.full.pdf+html
Søren C. Winter. "Implementation," entry in Bertrand Badie, Dirk Berg-Schlosser & Leonardo Morlino (eds.). The International Encyclopedia of Political Science. Sponsored by the International Political Science Association. London: Sage Publications. 2011.
Abstract: Examines and reconsiders research on policy implementation

Substantive Focus:
Education Policy PRIMARY
Environmental Policy
Social Policy SECONDARY
Comparative Public Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation SECONDARY