Social Worker Perspectives by Ryan Hill- Breathe Counselling Perth
Organisation theory for practice. Social work draws on theories relating to interpersonal communication, group formation and dynamics, leadership and resource (including power) distribution, problem-solving, and how various systems function independently and interrelate. Significantly, Hughes and Wearing’s (2007) concept of social work organisational theory translates and applies these various psychosocial theories to organisations. Incorporating reflective practice in organisational theory is important as management hierarchy, funding providers and government require justification for the allocation of resources. To Hughes and Wearing (2007), critical reflection and inclusive practice (incorporating theories from other disciplines) involves applying theory and generating new knowledge to apply to organisational theory. Organisational theory is justified by evidence-based best practice which embraces the perspectives and enhances the autonomy of service-users and social workers. Hughes and Wearing (2007) emphasise organisational inputs, processes and outcomes are influenced by the ecological-system or context in which the organisation is placed. Hughes and Wearing (2007) theory of organisational practice in human-services organisations resonates with the author of this paper. Organisational theory recognises roles within agency structure, the role of leadership and the decision-making process. Therefore, organisational theory is useful to guide social workers in navigating organisation structure, roles, leadership issues and the decision-making process. Organisational theory helps social work understand individuals, organisations, and communities within an ecological-system (at micro, mezzo, and macro-level). Hughes and Wearing’s (2007) concept of organisational theory views organisations as ever-changing relational entities. From this perspective, social workers have a justified role
within organisations as advocates of social justice and agents of change. Hughes and Wearing’s concept of organisational theory petitions social work to consider a broader and politically informed understanding of human-services work. These concepts support social work’s practice standards, to work in the pursuit of policy and procedural reform to attain equitable access to resources and raise awareness of systematic inequalities (Australian Association of Social Workers, 2010, p. 8). Hughes and Wearing’s (2007) concept of organisational theory is useful in school social work. For example, a school is an organisation with designated roles, including the Principal, teachers, business manager through cleaners. The social work role exists as part of the student support team. Organisation theory recognises structural roles yet also the group dynamics between and within them. For instance, a charismatic teacher may hold more power than others, therefore have influence over organisation decisions. Interpersonal and group dynamic theories will inform the social worker how to navigate these power discrepancies. Likewise, the organisational theory informed social worker will recognise societal influences which impact upon organisational structure and what children are taught.
References Australian Association of Social Workers. (2010). Code of Ethics. Retrieved 2017, from AASOCIAL WORK: https://www.aasocial work.asn.au/practitioner-resources/code-of-ethics Australian Association of Social Workers. (2013). Practice Standards for Mental Health Social Workers. Canberra, ACT: Australian Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from www.aasocial work.asn.au/practitioner-resources/practice-standards Hughes, M., & Wearing, M. (2007). Organisations and management in social work. London: Sage (Online access). Pease, B., & Fook, J. (Eds.). (1999). Transforming social work practice: Postmodern critical perspectives. London: Routledge. Siporin, M. (1980). Ecological Systems Theory in social work. The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 7(4), 1-27. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssocial work/vol7/iss4/4