Organizational Professionalism: Social Workers Negotiating Tools of NPM
This article examines how social workers and managers perceive meaningful work and expertise in six care and treatment facilities in Denmark. Based on 29 interviews with social workers (n=22) and managers (n=7), the article shows how New Public Management-inspired tools such as scoring schemas align with social work values such as “client-centeredness” and working with the individual welfare recipient face-to-face. The article finds that fitting social work into organizational schemas changes the work practices of social workers and also the way members of this profession define meaningful work and expertise. In addition, the article also finds that scoring schemas cause conflicts among social workers regarding the character of expertise when values of social work (to meet a welfare recipient’s need) must be aligned with NPM-inspired values of organizations (to meet managers’ demand for documentation).
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