This article presents an overview of the field of organizational change as it applies to human service organizations (HSOs). It offers definitions, conceptual models, and perspectives for looking at organizational change, and notes common reasons that organizational change efforts fail. The article takes the perspective of an agency executive or manager who has the responsibility for initiating and implementing a planned organizational change initiative. It offers a comprehensive, evidence-based model for tactics to use and steps to take, from assessing change readiness and change capacity to institutionalizing and evaluating change outcomes within the organization. Common change methods are reviewed, including those particularly relevant to HSOs, such as implementation science; the use of consultants; and change efforts, which can be initiated by lower-level employees. A research agenda, with particular attention to change tactics, is offered.
Yekutiel Sabah and Patricia Cook-Craig
The professional commitment of practitioners in a changing society requires them to continuously acquire new professional knowledge. Since robust and relevant knowledge is often in short supply, practitioners must learn to acquire the knowledge they need. Similarly, social agencies must become institutions that support the development of practice innovations by engaging in organizational learning. This implies that they both adopt an organizational culture and create structural arrangements conducive to learning. Given this imperative, the following entry reviews the philosophical, conceptual, and methodological underpinnings of organizational learning as a strategy for guiding practitioners and organizations in a systematic endeavor to invent and manage knowledge. A methodology for the application of organizational learning in social services is presented.
Bradford W. Sheafor
In U.S. society, individuals are designated “professional” when they meet the requirements for a profession. However, professions are developed and maintained through various professional organizations and associations. As social work has evolved, the professional membership and professional education organizations have periodically unified, split, and later reunified when maintaining an identity as a single profession competed with the need to address the interests of different practice specialties, educational levels, and special interest groups within social work.
Most social service organizations are identified by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as nonprofits, designated as 501c3 organizations. They are overseen by governing boards, which ensure that all the activities of the organization contribute to advancing its mission. These boards also identify strategic goals, hire and guide the executive, oversee the organization's finances, help raise funds for it, and ensure accountability to stakeholders.
Jennifer L. Magnabosco
Throughout history, measuring outcomes has been a goal and priority in the human services. This entry chronicles the history of outcomes measurement in the human services in the United States and discusses present-day outcome measurement activities as well as trends and some of the key areas for outcomes measurement in several human service domains.
Privatizing social services has taken a new turn as America enters the 21st century. Although it was once possible to separate private and public social services, the growing trend toward public–private partnerships has made such earlier distinctions meaningless since more and more private social services are supported with public money. There are advantages and disadvantages inherent in the mixing of public and private social services, but perhaps the greatest problem may be the support of a growing trend for all levels of government to dissociate themselves from their longstanding public social service responsibilities.
Cheryl L. Franks and Marion Riedel
Privilege is the invisible advantage and resultant unearned benefits afforded to dominant groups of people because of a variety of sociodemographic traits. Privilege provides economic and social boosts to dominant groups while supporting the structural barriers to other groups imposed by prejudice. Social work education and practice seldom challenges us to evaluate the effects of privilege on our professional relationships and the concomitant systems of oppression that marginalize many of the groups we work with. Privilege nurtures dependence, distances us from others, and creates a barrier to reflective social work practice. Acknowledging the effects of privilege increases our capacity to affirm our humanity and that of the communities we serve.
Richard M. Grinnell Jr., Yvonne A. Unrau, and Peter Gabor
This entry discusses how four types of program evaluations can be used in social service programs: (a) needs assessments, (b) process evaluations, (c) outcome evaluations, and (d) cost-efficiency evaluations. The future of program evaluation within the social work profession is also discussed along with various trends.
Rosalyn M. Bertram
This entry presents frameworks for implementing effective services. When service organizations understand and work through implementation frameworks, programs can achieve targeted fidelity and client outcomes in a sustainable manner while enhancing practitioner competence and confidence, and improving organizational culture and climate. These frameworks should be but are not yet infused throughout social work curricula. They provide a practical and conceptual bridge for supporting effective delivery of evidence-based or empirically informed practices.
Jon Simon Sager
Social planning emphasizes the application of rational problem-solving techniques and data-driven approaches to identify, determine, and help coordinate services for target populations. Social planning is carried out by a myriad of organizations—from federal agencies to community organizations—attempting to solve problems ranging from child welfare to aging. The advantages and disadvantages of this empirically objective data-driven approach, including different forms, will be discussed along with past, current, and future trends within the field of social work.