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The Iron Cage of Leadership: The Role of First-line Managers in Child Welfare
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Social Work.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational Health Science and Psychology, Occupational Health Science. University of Gävle, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research.
2020 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 50, no 2, p. 369-388Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the social services in general and particularly in child welfare, high staff turnover and recruitment difficulties have been reported for many years. Previous studies have shown that giving social workers adequate social support is important in getting them to maintain their job commitment and remain at the workplace. The aim of the present study was to investigate how child welfare managers perceive and respond to the content and demands of their professional role. Interviews were conducted with forty-two first-line managers. The results indicate that the expectations of the social workers and the demands of the organisation are in conflict. The overall picture is one of challenges and dilemmas in a changing managerial role, where the focus is increasingly on control, administration and budget responsibilities. While the managers highlight what can be regarded as transformative ideals and prioritise offering support and guidance to the social workers under them, the organisation seems to be pushing managers towards a leadership role characterised by control and authority, where quantitative measuring, monitoring and control processes are expected––a leadership style associated with transactional leadership. The influence of New Public Management on the conditions for, and the contents of, leadership in social services is discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2020. Vol. 50, no 2, p. 369-388
Keywords [en]
first-line manager, leadership role, New Public Management, social work organisations, transformational leadership
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-30984DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcz156Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85084432473OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-30984DiVA, id: diva2:1370779
Available from: 2019-11-18 Created: 2019-11-18 Last updated: 2020-05-25Bibliographically approved

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Tham, PiaStrömberg, Annika

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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