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Standardisation—the end of professional discretion?

Ponnert, Lina LU and Svensson, Kerstin LU (2016) In European Journal of Social Work 19(3/4). p.586-599
Abstract
This article analyses and discusses standardisation in human service organisations and its implications for professionals and for professionalism in social work. The theoretical framework derives from neo-institutional theory and theories regarding professionalism. By highlighting the role of professionals within a field influenced by organisational demands and market endeavour, this article contributes to the understanding of increased standardisation as a way to reduce uncertainty and enhance legitimacy for human service organisations, but at the expense of traditional professional discretion. This development has been interpreted as de-professionalisation and as an adjustment to organisational demands. It could also be seen as a... (More)
This article analyses and discusses standardisation in human service organisations and its implications for professionals and for professionalism in social work. The theoretical framework derives from neo-institutional theory and theories regarding professionalism. By highlighting the role of professionals within a field influenced by organisational demands and market endeavour, this article contributes to the understanding of increased standardisation as a way to reduce uncertainty and enhance legitimacy for human service organisations, but at the expense of traditional professional discretion. This development has been interpreted as de-professionalisation and as an adjustment to organisational demands. It could also be seen as a professional strategy to strengthen professional trust and provide a sense of certainty for professionals. It can also lead to professional uncertainty about how to handle the discretion in the light of standardised tools. This development might, depending on the organisational context and the individual professional’s choices, result in a manual-mental specialised professionalism as well as a strictly mechanical form of work. Standardisation thus puts high demands on professionals and how they use the professional discretion, since professionalism requires professionals capable of handling a mix of logics without totally yielding discretionary power and making professional judgement. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
discretion, uncertainty, standardisation, professionalism, human service organisations, manual-based work
in
European Journal of Social Work
volume
19
issue
3/4
pages
14 pages
publisher
Routledge Taylor & Francis
external identifiers
  • scopus:84941349293
  • wos:000384745000018
ISSN
1369-1457
DOI
10.1080/13691457.2015.1074551
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
86e6efdc-cd15-4d16-8313-51aaa5515bdd (old id 7792904)
date added to LUP
2015-08-28 16:49:40
date last changed
2017-10-29 03:04:02
@article{86e6efdc-cd15-4d16-8313-51aaa5515bdd,
  abstract     = {This article analyses and discusses standardisation in human service organisations and its implications for professionals and for professionalism in social work. The theoretical framework derives from neo-institutional theory and theories regarding professionalism. By highlighting the role of professionals within a field influenced by organisational demands and market endeavour, this article contributes to the understanding of increased standardisation as a way to reduce uncertainty and enhance legitimacy for human service organisations, but at the expense of traditional professional discretion. This development has been interpreted as de-professionalisation and as an adjustment to organisational demands. It could also be seen as a professional strategy to strengthen professional trust and provide a sense of certainty for professionals. It can also lead to professional uncertainty about how to handle the discretion in the light of standardised tools. This development might, depending on the organisational context and the individual professional’s choices, result in a manual-mental specialised professionalism as well as a strictly mechanical form of work. Standardisation thus puts high demands on professionals and how they use the professional discretion, since professionalism requires professionals capable of handling a mix of logics without totally yielding discretionary power and making professional judgement.},
  author       = {Ponnert, Lina and Svensson, Kerstin},
  issn         = {1369-1457},
  keyword      = {discretion,uncertainty,standardisation,professionalism,human service organisations,manual-based work},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3/4},
  pages        = {586--599},
  publisher    = {Routledge Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {European Journal of Social Work},
  title        = {Standardisation—the end of professional discretion?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2015.1074551},
  volume       = {19},
  year         = {2016},
}