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This paper addresses the impact of crisis on individual-level policy actors by studying the role of street-level bureaucrats in public policy-making during cutbacks in Estonia. To do so, the article makes use of two rivalling streams of theorizing, arguing for and against the increased role and importance of bureaucrats during retrenchment. The Estonian case confirms neither of these extremes, but refers to their complementarity by showing that in Estonia centralized cutback decisions werefatcat:iertwjtk4jbbpe66xpt4zd5sjm