The organisational dimension of social work is often neglected in practice literature. While there are notable exceptions (for example, Lymbery Sc Butler, 2004), there is a gap between the realities of organisational life as a social worker and social work practice as presented in the literature. Discussions of organisations or management are not usually integrated with practice examples. Such integration would help social workers develop organisational skills and knowledge that would enable them to carry out their job more effectively. The stereotypical gap between social work theory and practice is in many ways a reflection of this lack of analysis and an insufficient understanding of the organisational realities in which social care staff operate. Furthermore, the common deficit model (Ferguson, 2003) is explicitly or implicitly applied to discussions about the organisational context of social work practice: the employing agencies are ‘too bureaucratic’, ‘too managerialist’ and so on. The organisational setting becomes an easy target to criticise, and this can add to the negative burden that social care agencies and employees have to carry with them.
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