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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2009): Social care - overseas

Accountable and countable: information management systems and the bureaucratization of social work

J. Burton and D. Van den Broek

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 39, 2009, p. 1326-1342

A key feature of new public management is the tendency to equate quality and accountability with documentation. Human service organisations increasingly rely on computer databases to compile and record client information and to demonstrate outcomes for quality assurance and accountability purposes. This has resulted in substantial changes in work practices, processes and relationships for social workers. This paper draws on interview data from social workers in several Australian agencies to examine professional interactions with, and response to, changes in their work after the introduction of new technologies. While social workers may always have been accountable to their organisations as well as their clients, their limited input into the design and implementation of new technologies has sharpened tensions between professional and bureaucratic accountabilities.

New public management, care and struggles about recognition

H.M. Dahl

Critical Social Policy, vol. 29, 2009, p. 634-654

Over the past 25 years, new public management has been used as a tool for the reorganisation of public services in various Western states. This study looks at how new public management has been applied at the local level to home care workers employed by two Danish municipalities. In the first municipality, an ambitious policy of introducing self-governing groups and the continuous improvement of home helpers' qualifications has been pursued under the banner of new public management. In the second municipality, a different interpretation of new public management has prevailed, leading to work standardisation and codification. The research also identified two strategies used by the home helpers to resist the changes, negotiation and dialogue with management and angry protest.

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