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Title:Information use by levels in human service organizations
Author(s):Schervish, Philip Herbert
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Taber, Merlin
Department / Program:Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Health Sciences, Mental Health
Social Work
Information Science
Abstract:This exploratory study used a mailed questionnaire to collect data on the frequency with which information about clients, services, staff, and finances are used by human service workers. The 241 questionnaire items were developed from 66 information items determined to meet minimum information requirements for community mental health centers (CMHCs).
Patterns of information use were observed based on the frequency, type, and referents of items rank ordered for each level of respondents in the organization. An analysis of variance was used to test the statistical significance of the observed differences.
Differences were found in the use of information by level, type, and referent. The information used by executives appears to be too focused on financial stability to support decisions related to the mission and adaptability of the organization. Observations reflect a lack of clear definition about the roles and responsibility of managers in CMHCs. Observations also may reflect a gap in the education and training of social workers moving up to the role of manager. Information use patterns of direct service workers displayed the greatest congruence between what is used and what, in theory, they need to know. However, the use of information to support an informed practice was not evident in these patterns.
Findings suggest an organizational based design of information systems. However, designing a system based on the preexisting uses of information may not serve the organization, or the user, in the most productive manner. Effectiveness of information selection and use, as well as information system design in the human services, can be improved by directing specifically used information to workers at the various levels. Efficiency can be improved by determining the specific composition of the information needed and wanted by workers at these levels. It becomes incumbent upon schools of social work to teach the decision-making purposes and processes at each level of the organization. Schools must also expose students to the technologies available to support practice at the direct service level and beyond. Such efforts would promote improved caseload management, organizational responsiveness to the client, and reduce worker burnout.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Schervish, Philip Herbert
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8916303
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8916303

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