Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Australian Journal of Public Administration




School of Business and Law




Salehi, N., Brunetto, Y., & Dick, T. (2023). The role of authentic leadership on healthcare Street‐Level Bureaucrats’ well‐being during the pandemic. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 82(2), 271-289.



This study uses Conservation of Resources Theory, to explain Street-Level Bureaucrats’ (SLBs) workplace behavioural responses to threats to their well-being. We examine whether authentic leadership within street-level organisations positively impacts employee well-being by increasing SLBs’ perception of personal resources, and reducing their perceptions of work harassment. The research design comprises a survey that solicited quantitative and qualitative data from 163 healthcare SLBs working in Australian hospitals during the pandemic in April 2020. Analysis of the means indicates low levels of satisfaction with leadership and low levels of well-being for SLBs. The structural equation modelling findings show that poor leadership is associated with higher levels of work harassment and lower levels of employee well-being. Qualitative data support these findings. As healthcare workers were already listed as over-represented in the stress-related workers compensation statistics, one strategy may be to improve the level of organisational support by upskilling managers in authentic leadership behaviours with the aim of increasing their perception of support so as to increase employee well-being. This will benefit employees and their families, and the community they service. Points for practitioners: Street-Level Bureaucrats (SLBs) have been increasingly experiencing the public sector gap (demand outstripping supply of resources) because of the dominance of the austerity-driven managerialist paradigm. The recent COVID-19 crisis amplified the severity and impact of the public sector gap causing increased perceptions of work harassment and reductions in SLBs’ well-being. However, SLBs with high levels of Psychological Capital had a natural buffer in place to protect their well-being, and as such, they perceived less work harassment and erosion of their well-being. The way forward is to complement the austerity-driven managerialist paradigm in management decision-making with authentic leadership behaviours focused on maximising the well-being of SLBs and the public.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.