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Executing standardization tools in social work: A case study of the Swedish version of the Integrated Children’s System.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article reports findings from a case study exploring how a Swedish standardisation tool is executed in everyday social work practice. The tool in question is the Swedish version of the UK-based Integrated Children’s System (ICS), which in Sweden is known as Children’s Needs in Focus (Barns Behov i Centrum; BBIC). The study analyses group and individual interviews with social workers, managers, and politicians using concepts from implementation research and the microsociological concept of accounts. The findings demonstrate how participants account for their deviations from the BBIC manual and from the more informal intentions of the tool. Such deviations are conditioned by the fact that professionals often employ their own discretion in their work, which is necessarily inherent in human service occupations such as social work. Although the BBIC was initially well received, reception by professionals eventually turned to scepticism and a more critical stance. This can be attributed to both a lack of significant implementation conditions and key organizational factors and a lack of compatibility between the tool’s construction and the users’ needs and expectations. This article also discusses implications of these findings.

Keywords [en]
Social work, Standardisation tools, Integrated Children’s System, Discretionary space, Implementation
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-71736OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-71736DiVA, id: diva2:1192318
Available from: 2018-03-22 Created: 2018-03-22 Last updated: 2018-03-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Uppdrag standardisering: införande och användning av manualbaserade utrednings- och bedömningsverktyg i socialtjänsten
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Uppdrag standardisering: införande och användning av manualbaserade utrednings- och bedömningsverktyg i socialtjänsten
2018 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis addresses the issue of standardization in social work. Standardization is a necessary and fascinating, though underestimated, phenomenon, which governs, regulates and calibrates social life. In Swedish social services, we have witnessed an increased use of top-down imposed manual-based tools for investigative and assessment work. In human service organisations, such as social services, this raises questions about social workers’ control in terms of how work should be executed as well as the implications of standardization for professional discretion. The aim of this thesis is to investigate and understand standardization as a phenomenon, focusing on its consequences for social work as a profession and a field of practice.The thesis consists of four papers investigating the implementation and execution of manual-based assessment tools (BBIC, FREDA and SARA) in social services. The empirical material is based on interviews with a total of 68 social workers, managers, politicians and officials as well as documents and observations of risk assessment events. Each paper results from the analysis of an exclusive data set, with the concepts used in the analysis coming from theories of professions and organisations.The results show that increased standardization is a way for social workers to seek legitimacy as well as to claim jurisdiction and increase professionalism. The execution of the tools in social work is conditioned by significant key implementation factors in organisational contexts as well as the compatibility between the construction of tools and users’ needs and expectations. Along with previous research and theory, the results from the four papers are used to develop a tentative taxonomy of different discretionary positions that social workers can take with regards to standards in their practice. Those positions illustrate that it is not straightforward how the increased standardization of investigative and assessment work will impact professional discretion. It is argued that a balance between standardization and professional discretion is possible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linnaeus University Press, 2018. p. 93
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 316
Keywords
standardization, social work, profession, assessments, discretion, jurisdiction
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-71738 (URN)978-91-88761-48-4 (ISBN)978-91-88761-47-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-04-13, Växjö, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-03-22 Created: 2018-03-22 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved

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Skillmark, Mikael

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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Language
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Output format
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