41 books like Street-Level Bureaucracy

By Michael Lipsky,

Here are 41 books that Street-Level Bureaucracy fans have personally recommended if you like Street-Level Bureaucracy. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Scott Galloway Author Of The Algebra of Wealth: A Simple Formula for Financial Security

From my list on helping you be your best self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I try to use my platform to  help people consider how to live a more meaningful life. I've made mistakes, learned from them, and want to pass on those lessons. There are many definitions of success and fulfillment and many paths to achieve it. I hope by telling my story others can avoid some of the mistakes I made.

Scott's book list on helping you be your best self

Scott Galloway Why did Scott love this book?

Professor Kahneman’s ideologies on decision-making have helped me in business and my personal life.

His insights have enhanced my decision-making process and helped me navigate the strait between instinct and decision. His insights have encouraged me to delegate routine decisions, allowing me to reserve my mental energy for the most critical choices.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…


Book cover of Implementation: How Great Expectations in Washington Are Dashed in Oakland; Or, Why It's Amazing that Federal Programs Work at All, This Being a Saga of the Economic Development Administration as Told by Two Sympathetic Observers Who Seek to Build Morals on a Foundation of Ruined Hopes

Luke Fowler Author Of Democratic Policy Implementation in an Ambiguous World

From my list on how ideas are turned into actions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the obsession that we as a society have with making policy, but not whether policy works, and how policy is treated as a magic bullet to the social problems that we all care about. But my experience is that it’s not ideas that solve problems; it’s action that solves problems. This fascination has led me to become a professor of public policy and administration, where I have read extensively about this issue for over a decade and written two books and over four dozen articles. My work focuses on how ideas are translated into actions and how those actions impact our communities.

Luke's book list on how ideas are turned into actions

Luke Fowler Why did Luke love this book?

I really love this book because it’s a pure case study of why things often go wrong at the street level.

While it’s set in the mid-60s, a lot of the social and political themes are still relevant, so it begs the question of how much government has changed in the last half-century.

I really like that the authors explore this case without being too heavy-handed in why things went wrong; they just try to tell the story and work through it along with the reader. And you got to love that title!

By Jeffrey L. Pressman, Aaron Wildavsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Implementation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Three substantial new chapters and a new preface in this third edition explore and elaborate the relationship between the evaluation of programs and the study of their implementation. The authors suggest that tendencies to assimilate the two should be resisted. Evaluation should retain its enlightenment function while the study of implementation should strengthen its focus on learning.


Book cover of Churchill: The Power of Words

Luke Fowler Author Of Democratic Policy Implementation in an Ambiguous World

From my list on how ideas are turned into actions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the obsession that we as a society have with making policy, but not whether policy works, and how policy is treated as a magic bullet to the social problems that we all care about. But my experience is that it’s not ideas that solve problems; it’s action that solves problems. This fascination has led me to become a professor of public policy and administration, where I have read extensively about this issue for over a decade and written two books and over four dozen articles. My work focuses on how ideas are translated into actions and how those actions impact our communities.

Luke's book list on how ideas are turned into actions

Luke Fowler Why did Luke love this book?

I like that this book makes Winston Churchill’s powerful oratory style and poetic words easily accessible. Churchill was a master at speaking in a way that ignited the passion of others and focused them on common goals.

To be able to see and study those words really provides insights into how to shape the way others think about the world. It also opens the door to many historical issues that often get buried in some of the grander narratives about Churchill’s time.

By Winston Churchill, Martin Gilbert (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Churchill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winston Churchill knew the power of words. In speeches, books, and articles, he expressed his feelings and laid out his vision for the future. His wartime writings and speeches have fascinated generation after generation with their powerful narrative style and thoughtful reflection.Martin Gilbert, Churchill's official biographer, has chosen passages that express the essence of Churchill's thoughts and describe,in his own inimitable words,the main adventures of his life and the main crises of his career. From first to last, they give insight into his life, how it evolved, and how he made his mark on the British and world stage.


Book cover of Rage

Luke Fowler Author Of Democratic Policy Implementation in an Ambiguous World

From my list on how ideas are turned into actions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the obsession that we as a society have with making policy, but not whether policy works, and how policy is treated as a magic bullet to the social problems that we all care about. But my experience is that it’s not ideas that solve problems; it’s action that solves problems. This fascination has led me to become a professor of public policy and administration, where I have read extensively about this issue for over a decade and written two books and over four dozen articles. My work focuses on how ideas are translated into actions and how those actions impact our communities.

Luke's book list on how ideas are turned into actions

Luke Fowler Why did Luke love this book?

I like that this book takes a detailed look at 2020 from the view of the Trump presidency, based on interviews between Woodward and Trump.

One of the key themes here is that many decisions during that time were rooted in lessons learned earlier during Trump’s presidency, which helps us understand how we get stuck in doing things the way they’ve always been done. It also provides fascinating insights into how the generational crisis of COVID-19 was managed and mismanaged by the White House.

By Bob Woodward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BOB WOODWARD'S NEW BOOK, RAGE, IS AN UNPRECEDENTED AND INTIMATE TOUR DE FORCE OF NEW REPORTING ON THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY FACING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC, ECONOMIC DISASTER AND RACIAL UNREST.

Woodward, the No 1 international bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House, has uncovered the precise moment the president was warned that the Covid-19 epidemic would be the biggest national security threat to his presidency. In dramatic detail, Woodward takes readers into the Oval Office as Trump's head pops up when he is told in January 2020 that the pandemic could reach the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu…


Book cover of The Social Context of Violent Behaviour: A Social Anthropological Study in an Israeli Immigrant Town

Esther Hertzog Author Of Patrons of Women: Literacy Projects and Gender Development in Rural Nepal

From my list on bureaucracy and state power.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in bureaucratic power and its pervasive control grew out of my social and feminist activity no less than from my critical thinking about State institutions. Combining field research as a social anthropologist with my activism exposed me to the harmful implications of bureaucratic power. I delved into social and gender power relations in contexts like absorption centers with immigrants from Ethiopia, women's empowerment projects in "developing" countries, threatened motherhood in the welfare state, and others. My personal experience as an involved participant enabled me to better understand the ethnocentric and exploiting nature of international development projects, of Israeli "absorbing" agencies, and of child care policies. 

Esther's book list on bureaucracy and state power

Esther Hertzog Why did Esther love this book?

I cherish this groundbreaking book because it clarified to me the role of State bureaucracy behind various social phenomena, among which are: the connection between bureaucrats' power and violent behavior and the profound impact of State agencies on immigrants' integration processes.

The book's theoretical approach, which is based on power-dependence relations, encouraged me in analyzing the absorption of immigrants from Ethiopia (my PhD thesis) in terms of bureaucratic control rather than through cultural background and differences.

Not less important, this book was authored by the late Prof. Emanuel Marx, who was my admired supervisor and a very dear friend for over 40 years.  

By Emanuel Marx,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Social Context of Violent Behaviour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1976.
Violent behaviour occurs in every society. It grows out of the social order and can therefore be understood only in a social context. This book examines an orderly and relatively tranquil society, a small Israeli town settled by new immigrants, which is run by public agencies who pour in their resources to maintain the inhabitants. Circumstances have made the town an egalitarian society, but also limit its members' economic opportunities. This society has produced its special combinations of violent behaviour. The analysis extensively employs the 'case method' which has increasingly been used by social anthropologists.


Book cover of Sludge: What Stops Us from Getting Things Done and What to Do about It

Enrico G. De Giorgi Author Of Behavioral Finance for Private Banking: From the Art of Advice to the Science of Advice

From my list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Swiss researcher and university professor who applies mathematics and psychology to build quantitative models for financial decision-making. Most of my scientific contributions belong to a field of research called behavioral finance, that is, the study of how psychology affects financial decisions. I love mathematics, and I am fascinated by its ability to describe complex mechanisms, including those that generate human behavior.  

Enrico's book list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance

Enrico G. De Giorgi Why did Enrico love this book?

As a mathematician, I learned that constraints could push us away from optimality. Well, we still seek for optimality, but under constraints we can only be worse off than without. Reading this book, I learned that our life has plenty of unnecessary constraints that Prof. Sunstein calls sludge.

This book was a revelation because I was always tempted to consider misbehavior as a lack of judgment, self-control, etc. However, this book gave me a different perspective. Maybe as human beings, we strive for optimality, but the many constraints out there do not always allow us to act like a Homo Economicus. 

By Cass R. Sunstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sludge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times–bestselling author of Nudge reveals how we became so burdened by red tape and unnecessary paperwork—and why we must do better.

“If nudges have a mortal enemy, or perhaps the equivalent of antimatter to matter, it’s ‘sludge’.” —Forbes

We’ve all had to fight our way through administrative sludge—filling out complicated online forms, mailing in paperwork, standing in line at the motor vehicle registry. This kind of red tape is a nuisance, but, as Cass Sunstein shows in Sludge, it can also impair health, reduce growth, entrench poverty, and exacerbate inequality. Confronted by sludge, people just give up—and…


Book cover of Power, Poverty, and Education

Esther Hertzog Author Of Patrons of Women: Literacy Projects and Gender Development in Rural Nepal

From my list on bureaucracy and state power.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in bureaucratic power and its pervasive control grew out of my social and feminist activity no less than from my critical thinking about State institutions. Combining field research as a social anthropologist with my activism exposed me to the harmful implications of bureaucratic power. I delved into social and gender power relations in contexts like absorption centers with immigrants from Ethiopia, women's empowerment projects in "developing" countries, threatened motherhood in the welfare state, and others. My personal experience as an involved participant enabled me to better understand the ethnocentric and exploiting nature of international development projects, of Israeli "absorbing" agencies, and of child care policies. 

Esther's book list on bureaucracy and state power

Esther Hertzog Why did Esther love this book?

This book served me greatly in teaching courses on education and social stratification in Israel.

Its ethnography is fascinating and although it was published some 55 years ago its insights are still compelling and relevant. The book exposes the veiled bureaucratic interests which pull the strings behind the curtains of the educational system rather than ideals of justice and equity.

This critical analysis influenced my understanding with regard to the emergence of discrimination and racism that were the outcomes of concentrating Ethiopian children in separate classes for a long time.    

By Arnold Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Power, Poverty, and Education as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Understanding Forests

Tim Palmer Author Of America's Great Forest Trails: 100 Woodland Hikes of a Lifetime

From my list on important reads about forests.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with forests ever since running wild as a kid in the Appalachian woods of Pennsylvania. Now living at the edge of the Pacific in the Coast Range in Oregon, I’ve engaged with a host of forest issues involving watershed health, wilderness protection, fire management, and fish. Among the 30 books I’ve written, three are germane here: Trees and Forests of America, Twilight or the Hemlocks and Beeches, and America’s Great Forest Trails. I’m always learning more by reading everything I find about forests. For my afternoon break and exercise I typically work on my own 8-acre wooded parcel where I maintain trails, eradicate exotic invaders, and restore native trees.  

Tim's book list on important reads about forests

Tim Palmer Why did Tim love this book?

Another classic, Understanding Forests is the finest all-around narrative explaining the values of forests and the nuts and bolts of their management, their mismanagement, the bureaucracies of forestry and how they function, the needed reforms, and the political strides that must be taken, both twenty-five years ago and now. In one or two sittings a forest advocate can graduate from knowing very little to having an effective grasp of what we need to do for better care of our forests.  

By John J. Berger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding Forests as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Provides an introduction to the complex ecosystem of the North American forest and the economic, social, and political issues that are crucial to forest preservation


Book cover of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

Marianne Broadbent Author Of The Agile Executive: Embracing Career Risks and Rewards

From my list on aspiring women leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for leadership and aspiring women leaders comes from my own leadership experiences and working with women and men executives and aspiring executives, every day. I had to make some difficult work choices in my 20s and 30s (with four young children) and was wonderfully supported by some wise women. Many of my choices were different from my peers and we continue to have to make more difficult choices than our male colleagues. We need to help each other, every day. I lead a blended life co-leading an executive search and leadership advisory firm, while also being a mother, grandmother, wife, mentor, friend, and lover of good music, theatre, food, wine, and curious people. 

Marianne's book list on aspiring women leaders

Marianne Broadbent Why did Marianne love this book?

Covey’s book unlocks the nature of Trust and its critical value in life and leadership.

He explains that trust is about confidence in a person or relationship. To be trusted we need to be credible and he illuminates the four cores of credibility in two categories – our confidence in someone’s Character and our confidence in their Competence. The two core attributes of Character are Integrity and Intent. The two core attributes of Competence are Results and Credibility.

This clear explanation, and some of Covey’s diagnostics, have been very helpful to me in really understanding the notion of Trust and then working with executive to enable them to build greater trust and vulnerability with each other. Trust is the bedrock of great teams and great relationships. 

By Stephen M. R. Covey, Rebecca R. Merrill,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Speed of Trust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Stephen R. Covey's eldest son come a revolutionary book, now in handy B-format, that will guide business leaders, public figures and their organizations towards unprecedented productivity and satisfaction. Trust, says Stephen M. R. Covey, is the very basis of the 21st century's global economy, but its power is generally overlooked and misunderstood. Covey shows you how to inspire immediate trust in everyone you encounter - colleagues, constituents, the marketplace - allowing you to forego the time-killing and energy-draining check and balance bureaucracies that are so often relied upon in lieu of actual trust.


Book cover of Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them

Bartley J. Madden Author Of Value Creation Principles: The Pragmatic Theory of the Firm Begins with Purpose and Ends with Sustainable Capitalism

From my list on knowledge building and value creation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My intellectual journey has focused on three related passions: understanding how firms create value and the link to their stock market valuations, systems thinking, and knowledge building. This has led to the Madden Center for Value Creation at Florida Atlantic University that promotes the key value creation principles that are the foundation for a prosperous society. Prosperity is more widely shared through a society rooted in dynamism with enthusiastic support for experimentation, knowledge building, and innovation by firms. The Madden Center offers a Certificate in Value Creation online course that packages a learning experience to upgrade the knowledge, skills, and resources you need to create value. 

Bartley's book list on knowledge building and value creation

Bartley J. Madden Why did Bartley love this book?

Humanocracy addresses perhaps the biggest opportunity for value creation at scale, i.e., transitioning large command-and-control corporations to flatter organizations.

What I like most is the combination of rigorous thinking, plain language, and company stories illustrating the worldwide movement to purge bureaucracy. I have personally studied one of the companies spotlighted, the preeminent steel manufacturer Nucor. Four layers of management from the CEO to those working in the steel plants.

The authors understand what makes Nucor excel (page 82): “True to the spirit of humanocracy, Nucor’s model isn’t about pushing employees to do more, but giving them the opportunity to be more—more than blue collar workers, more than order takers, more than mere operators, more than employees… every job can be a good job.”  

By Michele Zanini, Gary Hamel,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Humanocracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal Bestseller

In a world of unrelenting change and unprecedented challenges, we need organizations that are resilient and daring.

Unfortunately, most organizations, overburdened by bureaucracy, are sluggish and timid. In the age of upheaval, top-down power structures and rule-choked management systems are a liability. They crush creativity and stifle initiative. As leaders, employees, investors, and citizens, we deserve better. We need organizations that are bold, entrepreneurial, and as nimble as change itself. Hence this book.

In Humanocracy, Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini make a passionate, data-driven argument for excising bureaucracy and replacing it with something better. Drawing…


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