Policy Alienation and Street-level Bureaucrats' Psychological Wellbeing: The Mediating Role of Alienative Commitment

Muhammad Usman, Moazzam Ali, Farooq Mughal, Peter Agyemang-Mintah

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In an era of New Public Management reforms, public sector policies often create a mismatch between social and economic values that can lead to public policy alienation—professionals’ feelings of disconnection from public policies. Policy alienation can create unrest among public professionals and carry several negative repercussions for their wellbeing and work-related attitudes. The negative repercussions of policy alienation are likely to inhibit public service delivery. However, existing research on policy alienation and its consequences for street-level bureaucrats’ wellbeing is scarce. Thus, it is unknown how policymakers can curb policy disconnect and counter its negative implications. To contribute to both general policy alienation theory and practice, our study hypothesized that the two dimensions of general policy meaninglessness—client meaninglessness and societal meaninglessness—are negatively related to street-level bureaucrats’ psychological wellbeing. We hypothesize this negative relationship is due to alienative commitment. A time-lagged survey data collected from 401 public professionals and analyzed using structural equation modeling supported our hypothesized relationships. The present study extends the nomological networks of the antecedents and consequences of alienative commitment and offers important implications that can help policymakers counter the issues related to public professionals’ alienative commitment and psychological wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbermuaa043
Pages (from-to)278-294
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number2
Early online date10 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021


  • Policy Alienation
  • Societal Meaninglessness
  • Client Meaninglessness
  • Alienative Commitment
  • Psychological Wellbeing
  • Sustainability
  • Public sector


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