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Rebel with a cause: The effects of leadershipencouragement and psychological safety onprofessionals' prosocial rulebreaking behaviour

In this article, Bernard Bernards, Eduard Schmidt and Sandra Groeneveld examine leadership encouragement and psychological safety as antecedents of prosocial rule-breaking (PSRB) behaviour.

Bernard Bernards, Eduard Schmidt and Sandra Groeneveld
20 December 2023
Read the full article here

A core idea of bureaucratic organisations is that rule-following is a necessary precondition to pursue the public interest. However, rules may sometimes become dysfunctional, burdensome, and even interfere with public value delivery. In those situations, professionals sometimes engage in prosocial rule-breaking (PSRB), rather than rule-following, with the aim to deliver meaningful public services. This article focuses on two conditions that potentially impact PSRB behaviour: leadership and psychological safety. 

The authors conclude by explaining that their study demonstrates the role of leadership encouragmenet and psychological safety in stimulating PSRB, which can be considered as a way for public organisations to become more responsive to citizen needs. As the work of frontline professionals cannot be fully captured in rules, the tension between rules and responsiveness at the frontlines of public service delivery, captured in PSRB, is likely to remain an important topic that public administration scholars and practitioners alike will need to address. 

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