Contracting out of social welfare services in Hong Kong : the contrasting views of social workers

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Contracting out of social welfare services in Hong Kong : the contrasting views of social workers


Author: Chan, Chun-mei
Title: Contracting out of social welfare services in Hong Kong : the contrasting views of social workers
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2001
Subject: Social service -- China -- Hong Kong
Contracting out -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Multi-disciplinary Studies
Dept. of Management
Pages: ix, 89 leaves : col. ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: The contracting out of social welfare services for both non-governmental organizations (NGO)s and private agencies through competitive bidding is one of the major proposals of the government for controlling the welfare budget when facing the financial burden on social welfare services. This policy in fact is a brand new idea to the delivery of social welfare services and a great challenge to the tradition of the field of social work. It has aroused many negative critics by social workers. As perceived by the general public, social workers worry about the exploiting of service quality and negligence of people's welfare need if the services are subject to open competition with the focus on cost-effectiveness and profit-making. It appears that social workers are customers-oriented and concern much about the service development when competing contracting out with the government. However, I observe that social workers seems not using this perspective to view contracting out and their views on contracting out are inconsistent. So, I set the objectives of the present research to find out (i) the different views among different social workers towards this policy and (ii) the factors affecting their views on the policy. Therefore, the dependent variable of the research is the views of social workers towards the contracting out of social welfare services. The independent variables are social workers' salary, rank, years of service and service sector. They are considered to have positive relationship to the dependent variable. The method of structured and direct interview are adopted in order to gain more qualitative data on social workers' views for the research. A total of 39 respondents were collected in the research including 6 from senior rank, 17 from mid-management social workers and 16 from frontline social workers. According to the research findings, not entirely all social workers opposed to contracting out. Social workers in fact viewed the contracting out of social welfare services and made their decisions with reference of their self-interests/own preferences. It matched with the public choice theory on individual behaviour. Senior and most mid-management social workers indeed welcomed to the contracting out of social welfare services as it brought about positive effect on work management to them. Frontline and some mid-management social workers, however, worried very much about the loss of their social work jobs. With the threat of their job security, they definitely opposed to the policy. NGO mid-management social workers responded another views. They considered the contracting out of social welfare services should not be applied to private sector as they would lose many social work posts and bargaining power in the field of social work. Moreover, the present research proves that social workers' rank, salary and service sector are of positive influence to social workers' interests on the policy (i.e. dependent variable). However, their years of service do not have the correlation to the dependent variable. The research also brings us the idea that the contracting out of social welfare services is a political matter rather than an administrative or economic matter. Conflicts of interests among policy actors are involved. Even if the policy itself is good in nature together with many expected advantages, it is necessary not the preferences of policy actors involved. For an effective and successful implementation of the contracting out of social welfare services, policy actors' consideration must be taken into account, including the conflict of interests among them, the involvement of customers and avoidance of making use by political groups or bureaucrats. Of course, an open and fair contracting mechanism together with an effective monitoring system are necessary from the administrative and operational management. As there is no previous study to look into the contracting out of social welfare services in Hong Kong, the present research findings thus provide the useful information and ideas for further studying the policy in future.

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