Author: Wong Fung-yee Margaret
Title: Administrative skills for social workers : an exploratory study on what is taught? What is practised?
Degree: DSW
Year: 2014
Subject: Social workers -- China -- Hong Kong
Social service -- China -- Hong Kong
Employee empowerment.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: iii, iii, ii, i, i, 225 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: This study explores the administrative roles and skills of frontline social workers, the difficulties they encounter while assuming both direct practices and administrative responsibilities, and possible alternatives to address the challenges they face in the organizational context in Hong Kong. A qualitative research methodology using in-depth individual interviews and focus groups is adopted to capture the experiences of frontline social workers, social service administrators and educators. It was found that frontline social workers' interpretation of social work administration is limited to primarily statistical input, submission of reports and documentation. The roles and functions of administration as part of the social work profession are largely overlooked. The interrelationship between social work administration and direct service is not duly recognized by frontline social workers. Most frontline social workers do not consider themselves well prepared to undertake administrative responsibilities, as much as they would like to. At the same time, there are constraints in developing and committing resources to a social work curriculum with emphasis on social work administration. The preference of direct practice over administrative practice and the discourse on the "legitimacy" of social work administration in higher education institutes, social service organizations and the social work profession are also reflected and discussed in this study. Apart from information gathered on what is taught and what is practised, the findings also revealed the frustration and aspirations of the younger generation of social workers. They are frustrated because of the difficulties they face trying to balance the roles in direct service with the demand to produce statistics and incessant output, reports and documentations. Yet, there is hope because they are still aspired and driven by mission and vision of the social work profession.
In arriving at suggestions on how social workers can better understand social work administration and transfer administrative theories and knowledge to practice and skills, the study suggested a framework which involves: harmonization of micro and macro practice; humanize social work administration so that a meaning could be attached to administration; connecting and creating the social work education curriculum to reflect the actual administrative practices and skills required by social service organizations; and enhancing communication and collaboration between educators, social workers, agency management and policy makers. Specific recommendations proposed for social workers, administrators, and educators, include: active pursuit of learning and practice opportunities in field practicum, incremental changes and review of the social work education curriculum, augment teaching capacities, research and knowledge building in social work administration, conduct systematic staff development and training programs on administration; initiate mentoring and peer support in service organizations and address concerns of the existing government subvention system. This study has provided valuable information on administrative practice by frontline social workers. The findings have pointed out gaps, issues and concerns which should be critically examined by the social work profession, educators as well as administrators. How the profession views administration as an integral part of social work, how educators design a curriculum which truly reflects the realities of social work practice in the 21st century and how administrators play the role to groom and cultivate the next generation of social workers are the challenges ahead of us.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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