The Role of Social Network Structure in Street-Level Innovation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In considering how peer relationships can aid street-level bureaucrats in doing their jobs, existing literature has emphasized the importance of peers in providing the social and emotional support required to deal with uncertain and stressful working situations. By applying a social network perspective to examine the innovative behavior of a sample of teachers in a large urban high school, this article highlights the importance of an additional factor: the location of a frontline worker’s position in the larger structure of social connections within the organization. In particular, multilevel statistical models reveal a positive association between the extent to which an experienced teacher is located in a network position that bridges across different organizational subgroups and his or her level of innovation, suggesting that experienced frontline workers may benefit from the information diversity that comes from having multiple and diverse social contacts. More generally, the study highlights the value of complementing individual and organizational insights with network-level perspectives for understanding the discretionary behavior of frontline professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-430
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • frontline workers
  • innovation
  • social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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