001

Table of Contents
 
Title Page
Copyright Page
Dedication
Preface
Acknowledgements
 
ORIENTATION AND OVERVIEW
 
CHAPTER 1 - Human Service Practice in a Diverse Organizational Landscape
 
AN ORGANIZATIONAL WORLD
ORGANIZATIONAL PRACTICE ARENAS
SOME BEGINNING COMMENTS
ORGANIZATIONS AS COLLECTIONS OF PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT PLAN AND DELIVER HUMAN SERVICES
ORGANIZATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
THE ONGOING SEARCH TO UNDERSTAND COMPLEX ORGANIZATIONS
LEADERSHIP IN COMPLEX HUMAN SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
CHAPTER 2 - Frameworks for the Organization Practitioner
 
CONNECTING ORGANIZATIONAL THEORIES TO HUMAN SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS
THE IMPORTANCE OF FRAMEWORKS
A MULTIPARADIGMATIC FRAMEWORK
A COMPETING VALUES FRAMEWORK
THE MYERS-BRIGGS FRAMEWORK
A STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK
AN INTEGRATED FRAMEWORK BUILT ON ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS AND PERSONAL PREFERENCES
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
PART I - STRUCTURE AND CONTROL
CHAPTER 3 - Traditional Organizations
 
FUNCTIONIALIST THEMES
ASSUMPTIONS OF THE FUNCTIONALIST PARADIGM
TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATION THEORIES SUPPORTING STRUCTURE AND CONTROL GOALS
COSTS AND BENEFITS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
CHAPTER 4 - Practice in Traditional Organizations
 
CULTURAL VALUES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
ROLES AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH AND WITHIN TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
STANDARDS OF PRACTICE WITHIN TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE IN TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
PART II - CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING FOR CHANGE
CHAPTER 5 - Social Change Organizations
 
RADICAL STRUCTURALIST THEMES
ASSUMPTIONS OF THE RADICAL STRUCTURALIST PARADIGM
SOCIAL CHANGE ORGANIZATION THEORIES SUPPORTING CONSCIOUSNESS-RAISING GOALS
COSTS AND BENEFITS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
CHAPTER 6 - Practice in Social Change Organizations
 
CULTURAL VALUES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF SOCIAL CHANGE ORGANIZATIONS
ROLES AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH AND WITHIN SOCIAL CHANGE ORGANIZATIONS
STANDARDS OF PRACTICE WITHIN SOCIAL CHANGE ORGANIZATIONS
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE IN SOCIAL CHANGE ORGANIZATIONS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
PART III - CONNECTION AND COLLABORATION
CHAPTER 7 - Serendipitous Organizations
 
INTERPRETIVE THEMES
ASSUMPTIONS OF THE INTEPRETIVE PARADIGM
SERENDIPITOUS ORGANIZATION THEORIES SUPPORTING CONNECTION AND COLLABORATION GOALS
COSTS AND BENEFITS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
CHAPTER 8 - Practice in Serendipitous Organizations
 
CULTURAL VALUES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF SERENDIPITOUS ORGANIZATIONS
ROLES AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH AND WITHIN SERENDIPITOUS ORGANIZATIONS
STANDARDS OF PRACTICE WITHIN SERENDIPITOUS ORGANIZATIONS
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE IN SERENDIPITOUS ORGANIZATIONS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
PART IV - INDIVIDUAL EMPOWERMENT
CHAPTER 9 - Entrepreneurial Organizations
 
RADICAL HUMANIST THEMES
ASSUMPTIONS OF THE RADICAL HUMANIST PARADIGM
ENREPRENEURIAL ORGANIZATION THEORIES SUPPORTING INDIVIDUAL EMPOWERMENT GOALS
COSTS AND BENEFITS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
CHAPTER 10 - Practice in Entrepreneurial Organizations
 
CULTURAL VALUES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF ENTREPRENEURIAL ORGANIZATIONS
ROLES AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH AND WITHIN ENTREPRENEURIAL ORGANIZATIONS
STANDARDS OF PRACTICE WITHIN ENTREPRENEURIAL ORGANIZATIONS
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE IN ENTREPRENEURIAL ORGANIZATIONS
CONCLUSION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
 
CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 11 - Multiparadigmatic Practice
 
ORGANIZATIONAL THEMES
ORGANIZATIONAL THEORY REVISITED
COMPARING AND CONTRASTING ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS AND CHARACTERISTICS
COMPARING AND CONTRASTING ROLES AND RELATIONSHIPS
STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES
OUR HUMAN SERVICE ORGANIZATION RESEARCH
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS
CONCLUSION
APPENDIX A - Organization Assessment
Glossary
References
AUTHOR INDEX
SUBJECT INDEX

001

This is for Lisa Gebo, a great intellect and an even greater woman.

Preface
THERE HAVE BEEN some very interesting developments in organization practice since we wrote the first edition to this text. There is more empirical evidence to support the existence and viability of alternative ways of organizing and practicing within human service agencies. Therefore, we have included more material related to the empirical research undertaken by us and others regarding a multiparadigmatic approach to understanding human service organizations. The various frameworks have been included as a way to corral the chatter that gets created when one comes to understand the complexity of the issues involved in dealing with multiple, respectable ways of organizing practice within organizational structures.
We have become a bit more savvy about our perspective and the accompanying challenges therein, as well as understanding better the clarity needed to allow space for alternative practices. In this edition, more attention is given to the paradoxes practitioners encounter when units or programs within an organization do not match the predominant identity, cultural assumptions, or goals of the larger organization. More attention is given to the role of advocacy and change objectives within each organizational perspective. We also examine personal challenges with lack of fit between preferences (comfort zones) and reality encountered in everyday survival within complex human service organizations.
This second edition of Organization Practice truly represents the culmination of multiple layers of collaborative thinking and work. The ideas remain essentially the same; however, the presentation has been substantially modified in order to make the information much more practical and user friendly. Former readers will notice expanded practice examples, including four extensive case studies to illustrate concepts and ideas intended to enrich the reading and learning experience. End-of-chapter discussion questions have also been developed. New readers will encounter an attempt on our part to recognize and manage the complexity of organization practice that, while relying on philosophy and theory, is very much tethered to the lived experience of professionals practicing in organizations guided by the values of the helping professions. Although much of our thinking is based in postmodern thought, we have been particularly attentive to our language usage and have provided an extended glossary to help. In addition, we hope we have been transparent and avoided vagueness as much as possible. Sometimes, however, it is impossible to keep it simple, so we encourage those using the text to “keep on keeping on.” Our students tell us that this approach to organizations becomes understandable over time. Once it is understandable, it serves as an invaluable tool for practice.
Much more about organization practice, beyond merely understanding culture and structure, has been developed for this edition. It continues to be built on multiple perspectives, with the four major parts of the text outlining types of organizations derived from different assumptions about what constitutes reality and guided by very different organizational goals. The idea is that with an understanding of the undergirding assumptions, one can understand the logic of the decisions that go into creating the organization and the expectations for practice within these different types of organizations. It is not our intention to determine what is best overall, but for readers to develop the capacity to use a variety of approaches to organization practice, depending on the need.
The major content of the text is divided into parts covering four types of organizations (Traditional, Social Change, Serendipitous, and Entrepreneurial) with additional introductory and concluding chapters. Each of the four content parts details the theories that can be used to guide each type of organization in a chapter that focuses on understanding that organization’s primary identity and goals. This more theoretical chapter is followed by a chapter on practice and standards within that type of organization. The four major parts of the book are designed to clarify the fundamental differences among organizations when worldview, organizational culture, and goals are joined. The multiple perspectives as detailed in the works of Burrell and Morgan (1979) and Cameron and Quinn (1999; 2006) guide the entire text.
Chapters 1 and 2 set the stage for the material that follows. Chapter 1 is rather definitional in nature, establishing various dimensions of the organizational world, its practice arenas, and programs and services, as well as human service organizational types and relationships. Here the reader will get a quick overview of the current organizational landscape, including a historical accounting of the major theories involved in organizational structure and practice. Discussion will include how the various theoretical approaches have developed over time, outlining the resultant assumptions about organizations, employees, managers, and leaders. It is our belief that a good historical grounding is necessary to understand the logic of the contemporary decisions. We also follow the adage that those who do not understand their history will be forced to repeat it. Because this is such an analytical text aimed at managing complexity, information regarding critical thinking, self-awareness, and leadership will be surfaced in the context of multiculturalism and diversity.
Chapter 2 introduces the frameworks that will be used throughout the text to connect theory to practice in human services. Discussed separately and then integrated into the scaffolding of the remainder of the text, paradigms (Burrell & Morgan, 1979), competing values and cultures (Cameron & Quinn, 2006), Myers-Briggs (Myers, 1998), and strategic management (Mintzberg, Ahlstrand & Lampel, 1998) will be described briefly and then brought together by introducing the four types of organizations that will be the focus of the remainder of the text.
We believe this integration is a useful vehicle for the sort of organizational and practice responsiveness necessary in the complex, multicultural world of the 21st century. Discussion questions at the end of these chapters will deepen students’ basic conceptual understandings prior to embarking on the more theoretical and practical considerations in the next four parts of the text.
Parts I, II, III, and IV are written in a parallel format, with two chapters each. Each part contains an introduction that covers the major goals of the type of organization that is the focus of that part. Also included is an extensive case intended to provide an exemplar of the lived experience in the type of organization that will be further interrogated in the rest of that part of the text. The case example should begin the thinking about organizational perspectives. These cases are also intended to provide a basis for comparison of how different sets of assumptions drive organizational structure and influence the development of different cultures and practices within human service organizations.
In the first chapter of each part, we will examine important structural characteristics of a human service organization with goals that fit within the specified perspective on organizing. Theories and assumptions about structure and behavior will also be introduced that fit with the particular perspective. In the second chapter of each part, we will focus on standards for practice in an organization congruent with the goals and perspectives outlined in the earlier chapter. The derived characteristics covering values, mission/philosophy, organizational structure, and programs and services will set the stage for the expectations related to roles and relationships, leadership, and practice. Between the two chapters, a full picture of a specific type of organization will be offered in order to surface the differences that accrue within organizations that reflect differing assumptions. Particular attention will be given to the social justice implications of the values, preferences, and decision-making strategies relevant to the organization’s goals, so that eventually the reader will come to understand the paradoxes that are naturally part of human service organizations, regardless of type. The four parts of the text capturing differing organizational goals are: (1) Structure and Control, (2) Consciousness Raising for Change, (3) Connection and Collaboration, and (4) Individual Empowerment.
Part I: Structure and Control covers the organizational perspective most traditional and familiar to readers. Chapter 3 details the Traditional Organization and its commonly accepted ways of organizing. Both the theories and the cultural identities supporting this approach are detailed, along with real-life examples showing how concepts actually operate in practice. In Chapter 4, we examine the practice expectations derived from this approach to organizing. The strengths and challenges of planned change will be detailed with examples. End-of-chapter discussion questions have been designed to enhance the reader’s critical thinking about understanding and practicing in traditional, bureaucratic human service organizations with established and legitimized identities and reputation. The idea is to begin to challenge the thinking about Traditional Organizations so that a space is created for alternative, new, or emergent organizational arrangements.
Part II: Consciousness Raising for Change begins the construction of that space for the development of new roles and relationships between management, practitioners, and clients. In Chapter 5, we focus on Social Change Organizations that have social reform and large-scale advocacy at their core. Theories guiding structure and practice calling for transformative, perhaps revolutionary, change, including power and politics and postmodern traditions, are investigated. The consequences of clear declaration of radical change goals at the class level are detailed as a transition to Chapter 6. In this chapter, the dialectical nature of practice, the ways in which power and politics are operationalized, along with the risks that may be involved are covered with examples drawn from more progressive current practices. In this chapter we also introduce the themes of paradoxes that will be seen throughout the rest of the text. Here, the paradoxes of radical units within more traditional types of organizations or those of internally ordered organizations with radical social goals will be explored, through both the case narrative at the beginning of Part II and the end-of-chapter discussion questions. The idea here is to help the reader consider how to bring empowerment and more radical change into society, also demonstrating how to risk transformation from within traditional organizational structures.
Part III: Connection and Collaboration takes a more consensus- and context-based approach to organizing, following the more interpretive perspectives of the Serendipitous Organization. Chapter 7 emphasizes those organizational theories focusing on meaning making and context. More modern theories such as organizational culture and sense making are highlighted to help the reader understand how in Chapter 8 practice norms in these organizations are often unstated and difficult for outsiders to understand. Practice in Serendipitous Organizations can both complement and compete with other approaches. Treatment of Part III’s case example in both chapters is intended to show both commonalities and differences between this type of organization and expected practices in more traditional and radical organizations. The challenges as well as the paradoxes that emerge with an orientation to process are addressed and further developed in the end-of-chapter discussion questions. The expectation is that the reader will not be naïïve about the difficulties imbedded in appreciating difference while also seeking consensus.
We have left the most challenging alternative perspective until last. Part IV: Individual Empowerment appears at first to be antithetical to organization practice. In fact, it would seem that the Entrepreneurial Organization is antithetical to any sort of structure. In Chapter 9, from a theoretical perspective, comparison will be made with radical change entities in order to highlight how individual empowerment organizations are tied to power and politics theories, critical theory, certain branches of feminist theory, and postmodern theories, as are organizations with larger-scale transformative change goals. The difference will be illustrated through the antiadministration approach to theory. Part IV’s case example will, we trust, provide a provocative backdrop for exploring the nature and consequences of this emerging approach to organizing. Chapter 10 is all about paradox. The issues of organizing without organizational structures and creating organizations that empower individuals and respect differences at all costs are explored. This exploration continues in the end-of-chapter discussion questions on the challenges of transforming individuals within highly flexible organizational boundaries or within organizations having no traditional boundaries whatsoever.
A final effort at helping the reader compare and contrast the material is found in the concluding Chapter 11, Multiparadigmatic Practice. This final chapter is provided to offer extensive details to be used with critical analysis that should allow for evenhanded consideration of the costs and benefits of structuring organizations from the four different perspectives presented. Strengths and challenges of organization practice from each perspective are offered in order to straightforwardly look at the paradoxical consequences in the absence of pure organizational types.
The appendix that follows Chapter 11 is composed of an organization assessment tool that should enable the reader to identify and assess the congruence and paradoxes between and among perceptions of the ideal organization, the work unit in which one spends the most time, and the overall organization in which practice occurs. This is offered as both an assessment and a planning tool for future practice.
From this entire discussion it should be clear that throughout the text a great deal of attention is given to the existence and management of paradoxes that one encounters when units or programs within an organization do not match the predominant identity, cultural assumptions, or goals of the larger organization. Our goal is also to raise readers’ consciousness of the potential personal paradoxes that can accrue when there is lack of fit between organizational preferences and organizational reality. Our intention is not simply to raise the possibilities, but also to help the manager and the practitioner realize when there is a problem requiring some sort of change in organizational structure, practice, or status. In short, we hope that more of your attention will be directed beyond appropriate practice within a given organization to an enhanced vision of the role of advocacy and change objectives within each organizational perspective. In that way, the role of practitioner as advocate can in fact be appropriately activated when necessary, regardless of the organization’s goals, structures, or expectations. We sincerely hope that this book can serve as a launching platform for future human service leaders to engage in thoughtful and competent organization practice that develops in response to changing contexts, needs, and expectations. From our vantage point of multiple perspectives, we have learned more and more every day. As a result of your engaging with the material here, we trust that options and possibilities will open for you, as well.

Acknowledgments
OUR STUDENTS AND community colleagues have been instrumental in bringing us along and we are indebted to them for that. We especially thank a decade of Planning and Administration students (even those who thought theory was “way boring”) for their willingness to play with these ideas even when they were not so well developed. We are also grateful for their insightful and practical feedback to various versions of the first edition. If other students think this edition speaks to them, it is because of the conversations we have had with our own students. Many of our students have become our professional colleagues in the community as they have graduated to become leaders in the field. Others have gone on to become social work educators. Thankfully, they continue to be our helpful critics for these ideas. We are very appreciative of two special social service agencies that allowed us to empirically test the ideas herein. If this edition is particularly useful, we are decidedly indebted to those collaborations.
We are indescribably grateful to the academics who have given us constructive feedback about the challenges and opportunities that our first edition represented for them in the classroom. That feedback and the suggestions by reviewers of this edition have come together to help us create a new and, hopefully, improved version of our original work. We are particularly grateful to our practitioner colleagues, who not only have found our approach useful but have given us insights into its usefulness. The naming of the organizational types is based on a collaboration with Nancy Macduff, who came up with the words to describe each paradigmatic type so that volunteer managers could use our work. “Thank you” is also in order to Paul McWhinney, John Purnell, and Karen Legato, who were open to collaborations for empirical testing of our ideas.
Nothing could have made this second edition a reality without Lisa Gebo, who always believed in us and encouraged our creativity. The editorial staff at Wiley, especially Sweta Gupta, Stevie Belchak, and Rose Sullivan, have always been responsive and helpful to us in every aspect of the writing process.
Finally, we are grateful to Dean Frank R. Baskind and the faculty of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work for supporting our research so that we could further extend our ideas. Special thanks go to our collaborator, Humberto Fabelo, who enthusiastically joined with us in testing the Burrell and Morgan framework. Particular appreciation is due to our friend and colleague, David Fauri. David’s generosity of spirit and respectful, yet critical, feedback have been instrumental in the growth and further development of the ideas contained herein.

ORIENTATION AND OVERVIEW

CHAPTER 1
Human Service Practice in a Diverse Organizational Landscape
IN THIS BOOK, we focus on the knowledge and skills practitioners rely on to professionally work and survive in organizations. All human service practitioners engage in organization practice, regardless of their focus. In this chapter, we want to impress upon the reader the importance of competent organization practice because most practitioners will work within, and with, many different organizations throughout their professional careers. We define organization practice as working and surviving in organizational arenas by making changes that address the needs of multiple stakeholders and constituencies, strongly grounded in professional values, critical thinking, and self-awareness.
One can find as many definitions of organizations as there are writers on organizations. Shafritz, Ott, and Lang (2005) define organizations as “social unit[s] with some particular purpose” (p. 1). They contend that “the basic elements of organizations have remained relatively constant throughout history: Organizations (or their important constituencies) have purposes (which may be explicit or implicit), attract participants, acquire and allocate resources to accomplish goals, use some form of structure to divide and coordinate activities, and rely on certain members to lead or manage others” (p. 2). These characteristics vary, depending on the environment in which an organization operates. We find Shafritz, Ott, and Lang’s (2005) definition to be to the point and we agree with their assumption that there is something “social” about this unit or arena by the very nature of multiple people being involved. They also assume there is “some particular purpose” for this social unit to come together. Purpose is a broad, inclusive word that could include goals and objectives, but does not have to do so. And there may be multiple purposes, depending on the organization.
In this chapter, we provide a brief overview of the human service organizational landscape, including the arenas in which professional practice occurs. We make explicit our assumptions and biases, followed by a focus on programs and services as well as types of human service organizations and their relationships. A brief historical review of organizational theory development is provided to whet the reader’s appetite for a more specific focus on selected theories in subsequent chapters. Included in this section are theoretical assumptions held about different units of analysis in organizational settings—the organization itself, employees, and persons in formal managerial and leadership roles. The use of critical thinking and self-awareness for leadership in organization practice follows with special attention to the student or employee who is clinically, rather than organizationally, oriented. We end this chapter with attention to the kind of complexity and diversity that is found in multicultural settings, which leads to our second chapter, in which established frameworks for understanding the complexity of organizing human services are introduced.

AN ORGANIZATIONAL WORLD

To understand the role of organizations in professional life, it may be helpful for readers to think about how they view work. Many years ago, a worker in an agency might have aspired to remain in the same organization for years and to “move up” in that agency. Today’s employment expectations are much different. It is more typical for people to change jobs frequently. It is also more typical for agencies and services to go into and out of existence, as well as to perform their functions across political, economic, societal, and ideological boundaries. Examining organizations as practice arenas must be placed within the broader global context of changing expectations of what one looks for in a position and how employees define themselves within the contemporary world of work.
Since the world is often viewed through inter- and intraorganizational contexts, composed of many different organizations that perform various functions within and across international boundaries, few persons are untouched by multiple organizations. Organizations are an integral part of a contemporary lifestyle, and they are arenas in which the exchange of resources occurs on a regular basis. They may be situated in defined geographical communities or they may transcend geography, connected by technological innovation, as with virtual organizations. Their purposes and structures are as varied as their numbers.
In addition, there are organizations that deliver no human services directly but perform support functions such as providing funding, planning for and oversight of human service providers, advocacy for special population groups, and/or education and training for those persons who do provide services. These organizations often have staff who review grant applications and determine who will be funded, contract for services with providers, set priorities among competing human service needs, formulate and interpret policy, advocate for change, and influence technologies used in service delivery. They are very much a part of the human service landscape, even though they are not direct providers of human services.
We take an expansive view of human service work, encouraging professionals to recognize that there are no clear-cut, separate sectors in which human service work is conducted. Thus, we expose one of our many assumptions in writing this book that contemporary human service work occurs through traditional, alternative, and emerging auspices and that many organizations are involved in the formulation and interpretation of policy, in influencing provider agencies, and in the daily delivery of human services. Given the ever-changing landscape of human service delivery, mapping it is a challenge.

ORGANIZATIONAL PRACTICE ARENAS

Rothman, Erlich, and Tropman (2008) identify three large system practice arenas: communities, organizations, and small task groups. These arenas are anything but mutually exclusive. Communities, organizations, and groups overlap and interact and all are organized for a purpose. To add to the complexity, more and more organizations are operating across communities, states, nations, and international boundaries. When the world is one’s practice arena, to be effective, it becomes a challenge for practitioners to be respectful of different cultures and contexts when enacting organizational work.
Practitioners, in both their personal and professional lives, by virtue of being a part of these complex arenas, are tied to numerous organizations that relate to and even formally affiliate with various communities and groups. Practitioners are professionally affiliated with an organizational structure or structures, whether they are private practitioners within the confines of a small group practice or public officials within a complex web of bureaucratically entangled relationships. Few professionals are free agents who can afford to practice without the support of an organizational base. The few who operate as independent consultants or solo practitioners create their own organizations that interact with and depend on a multitude of organizations for survival. Organizations may even be the object of their interventions. Even if an organization is not located in another part of the world, each organization will have distinctive cultures, requiring the use of multicultural skills for effective practice.
Organizations have been viewed by some theorists as situated in uncertain, turbulent environments in which they are constantly responding to constraints (things they can not change) and contingencies (things about which they have to compromise and negotiate). Yet, it is not just the environments in which organizations operate that are uncertain and turbulent. Organizations face internal uncertainties and turbulence as well. Organizations are dynamic, changing entities that are situated in dynamic and changing communities. Given the nature of these settings, to be successful, practitioners must understand as much as possible about these dynamics.
Adding to complexity, organizations that support and deliver human services vary in how they are structured. It is important for practitioners to know the architecture of the organizations within which they practice. One often hears the term formal used to describe an organization. This implies that there are also informal organizations. It is not always easy to define clear boundaries between a formal and an informal organization. For example, a group of committed citizens may organize to provide services to persons in need. In the process of organizing they may develop a statement of purpose, rally the support of volunteers, and develop a process for their services. They are technically an informal group. But what happens when they decide to form a nonprofit corporation so that they can receive funding from outside sources? If they are incorporated, they are formally recognized as a nonprofit organization. They may still have the same purpose, continue to use volunteers, and deliver their services in the same way. Yet, they are no longer just a “group”; they are an organization. Perhaps there are degrees of formality. We cannot tell you clearly when a group becomes a formal organization or when service delivery becomes formalized. Both the challenge and the opportunity in organization practice is that boundaries between organizational practice arenas are not always clear and distinctive.

SOME BEGINNING COMMENTS

Before we thoroughly examine the concept of organization and focus on those that engage in human service delivery, we would like to release the reader from some of the constraints of order, finality, and logic. You might be hoping that you will find some universals that you can apply to all organizations so that human service delivery systems will make sense once you’ve studied organizations. You might hope that practicing in organizations will be easier having read our material. If any of these thoughts sound familiar, we offer some alternatives to consider.
First, we, and others, will frequently refer to organizations as systems and to human service delivery systems. Do not be fooled by these references to systems. The word system may lead you to think of something that is logical, consistent, and definable as it works; however, you will encounter many organizations (perhaps most) that seem very unsystematic. This may not be because you “just don’t get it.” It could be that these systems don’t make sense without understanding the full context in which they operate. It could even be that they don’t perform like systems at all. It could be that your assumptions about how things should work are so different from the assumptions held about the organization by others, that you are experiencing a clash in cultures. Do not despair, for this presents an opportunity to learn about different cultures. Some organizations will have similar characteristics, but every organization will have its own uniqueness. Some will be so unique that they will be different from those you have previously experienced and unlike others you will know. Do not jump to any conclusions about what you are experiencing until you can fully understand the major aspects of the cultural context of that organization. Only then is appropriate assessment possible.
Second, we find that some people approach the study of human service organizations with the assumption (or hope) that the reason they don’t quickly see how the whole service system works is because they haven’t yet learned enough about how individual organizations work. As they learn more, they might discover that the human service system seems fragmented or hard to understand. Frustration occurs because there is a deep-seated assumption that someone, somewhere, conceptualized the system and understands the “master plan.” Let us assure you: There is no one overriding master plan. Sometimes there are few, if any, overriding plans at all. Other times there are multiple plans of how a system should work, plans that have not been coordinated or even articulated, plans that may even contradict one another. Some plans are rigidly scientific and others emerge (Netting, O’Connor, & Fauri, 2008). If you can’t make sense of the delivery system, it is possible that the delivery system doesn’t make sense. This is understandable when one thinks historically about how numerous organizations and groups emerged to address diverse needs in local communities. They did not arise simultaneously in a rational, concentrated effort to provide care. Some actually arose in protest of others that did not respond to the needs of invisible community groups. The landscape of human service delivery, therefore, is rich in diversity, offering you an assortment of perspectives. It is the exceptional situation that has a unified jointly held vision of human service delivery in a local community where organizations, though differing in structure and culture, mesh together to accomplish common goals in an apparently seamless responsive process. When organizations go global, the challenge of sense making grows exponentially. Imagine how potentially unattainable it is to find a jointly held vision across the borders of culture and geography. Without great care, some sort of superimposition of culture and norms about aspects of organization practice are inevitable. For us, mutual sensitivity and competence across cultures (whether those are local or international) is essential.
Third, no matter what we say, there will be exceptions to every rule. Any attempts to define, categorize, or classify organizations are only that: attempts. If you know of an organization that does not conform to what we say throughout this text, then it is because you know of an organization that does not fit. It is probably not that you “don’t get it” or that the organization in question should be made to conform in order to do it “right.” Let us be clear in our message: We are attempting to provide some manageability in examining this landscape when in actuality we know that disorder and chaos are the way many of our systems creatively solve the problems associated with human service work. Organization practice, therefore, requires one to constantly be assessing and reassessing situations. This is why you are here: to learn about organizations so that you will become knowledgeable and skilled in a highly complex arena of practice. Our goal is that you learn about and respect the many dimensions of difference in organizations in order to professionally survive and thrive.

ORGANIZATIONS AS COLLECTIONS OF PROGRAMS AND SERVICES

Organizations that support and deliver human services address concerns about people and their needs, making them somewhat different from organizations in general, yet most of the organizational literature is not directed to these type organizations. We recognize that not all organizations delivering human services are full-time human service agencies, nor is everything a human service organization does focused on direct service delivery to clients. In our view, organizations that fund, plan, advocate, and/or educate are in the human service business, even though they are not direct providers of services. If such organizations are social units that come together for a purpose, then these organizations often find ways to pursue that purpose in the form of programs.

PROGRAMS

We are defining programs as structural containers for long-term commitments, services, and/or activities designed to directly or indirectly address human needs—a set of activities designed to fulfill a social purpose (Netting, O’Connor, & Fauri, 2008). Direct human service programs focus their activities on addressing specific client needs, whereas indirect programs support these human service efforts, focusing on such areas as fundraising, public relations, or advocacy. Sometimes, entire organizations will be devoted to these support functions. For example, a state human service department may be an oversight and planning agency for those providers who deliver services locally. Similarly, a foundation that funds a program initiative to provide case management for troubled youth is supporting direct service grantees who implement its program.
In order to fully support direct client-serving programs, human service providers may have a variety of other types of programs. For example, a human service agency could have direct service programs to assist clients, usually attempting to make their situations better in some way, and staff development and training programs that focus on staff, the intention being that if staff have additional knowledge and skills they will be able to do better direct service provision. The agency could have support programs that may be program-, organizational- or community-based, with the intention being that their activities are processes that will lead to higher quality programming.
Obviously, there are organizations that do not deliver direct human services but still have programs and still hire practitioners. Roles that practitioners play in these organizations are reflected in titles such as advocate, trainer, planner, policy analyst, administrator, monitor, evaluator, and program officer. Other organizations, called provider agencies, hire practitioners in direct practice roles to implement programs through the provision of services.

SERVICES

A service is a specific intervention. For example, a service could be counseling or receiving a mobile meal. Both are human services because they directly impact individuals in need. While one is less concrete (counseling) than the other (a meal), both services might be linked in a senior citizens’ program designed to address the psychological and nutritional needs of older persons. Programs tend to be comprised of multiple services. Although organizations do not always conceptualize their activities as programs composed of services, it is helpful to use this framework in looking at how human services are delivered.
This conceptualization is also useful in separating what is occurring in a human service organizational context as it attempts to meet clients’ needs. At times within the service system, funding sources and other persons in power do not immediately recognize the need for new programs and services. Even well-designed programs and innovative service technologies may require piloting within an organization before they will be embraced. Sometimes there are unpopular causes or population groups who are not served at all. In these cases, hopefully, programs, services, or even new agencies emerge in response to these unmet needs.

TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS THAT PLAN AND DELIVER HUMAN SERVICES

PUBLIC AGENCIES

Public or governmental agencies are mandated by law at some level of government. A public agency in the U.S. context is established through a local, a state, or the federal system with the purpose of that agency contained in legal statutes. Examples of public agencies are local, state, or federal departments of human or social services, health, education, and aging. Public agencies are created through legislation and are charged with implementing public social policies. Since social policies are formulated, developed, debated, and eventually approved and enacted by public policy makers, public agencies inherit the controversies sometimes surrounding the social policies that mandate their programs and services. Their destinies as service entities are deeply imbedded in current and past political ideology.
Public agencies that deliver human services vary in how they are structured. For example, Ezell and Patti (1990) examined state-level human service agencies in Delaware, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, South Carolina, and Utah. These six states were selected because they represented diversity in comprehensiveness (how many different services they provide), integration (how connected or interrelated their services are with one another), and centralization of services and decision making. Even though these researchers hoped to find “what is best” in terms of how public human services are structured, they reported that every state had something to offer and that each state’s agency had strengths and limitations. In each state, various constituencies had different expectations, some of which conflicted. The design of state and local agencies represented compromises among diverse constituencies and the outcomes they would accept.
Public agencies are often large in size for reasons of efficiency because they are mandated to serve numerous population groups with multiple problems. However, this does not mean that they will look the same. In fact, given differences in regional and local resources and needs, it is questionable that they should look the same. We disagree when people say that if you have seen one public bureaucracy, you have seen them all. They may appear hierarchical in structure, but there are many different ways to design an effective public agency, just as there are different ways to determine effectiveness. Because of the political context of the public agency, it is the political process of consensus building that determines public agency design and the scope of its services. Therefore, there will be much diversity in terms of what and how many programs an agency will have from state to state. This is also the case for what services each program will contain, how its programs will relate to one another, how centralized or decentralized its decision-making and authority structures will be, and how many branch offices it will have.

PRIVATE AGENCIES

Private agencies are a broad category of organizations, including those that are called nonprofit and for-profit. Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations are part of the human service enterprise and are different from public agencies. Recently in the United States and elsewhere, new approaches are developing that in some ways combine non-profit and for-profit. Called social entrepreneurs and social businesses, they often blur the lines in creative ways.
 
Nonprofit Organizations Nonprofit organizations are referred to as nongovernmental, third sector, voluntary, charitable, or tax exempt agencies depending on the nation in which they are located. They typically have uncompensated, voluntary boards of directors who cannot benefit financially from the organization’s profits. Any profit made must be reinvested in the organization.
Lohmann (1989) points out that using the prefix non to describe an entire group of organizations is not particularly helpful. He compares naming a sector nonprofit or nongovernmental to defining lettuce as a mammal. “Lettuce is a non-fur-bearing, non-milk-producing, non-child bearing, and non-warm blooded nonanimal. Further, as a mammal, lettuce is highly ineffective, being sedentary and not warm-blooded. All other mammals are much faster. Lettuce is also remarkably non-agile and fails to protect its young. On the whole, lettuce is a miserable excuse for a mammal!” (p. 369). Lohmann’s wit reveals the challenges posed by defining one sector (non-profit) in light of another (for-profit).
Nonprofit agencies have been described over the years in numerous ways: as representative organizations of a defined body of the citizenry; as nonstatutory organizations; as nongovernmental organizations with an elected board of directors; as organizations supported by voluntary (non-tax) dollars; and even as organizations that “feel” voluntary. We add to this laundry list the possibility that some voluntary agencies today do not feel voluntary at all. They are struggling to become more businesslike and in the process are having identity crises over what they really are. For us, what probably makes a nonprofit agency voluntary is that their board of directors must serve without compensation and, therefore, are volunteers.
As part of the complexity of the nonprofit landscape, and contrary to popular belief, nonprofit organizations can make profits. In fact, if they do not make profits, they may have little chance at stability and growth. The defining characteristic of a nonprofit organization is that it is barred from distributing profits, or net earnings, to individuals who exercise control over it. These individuals might be directors, officers, or members. Net incomes, if any, must be retained and devoted to the purposes for which the organization was formed (Hansmann, 1981). This means that any funds left over at the end of a fiscal year must be reinvested in the organization, not distributed to any constituency.
Another element that muddies the distinction between types of agencies in human services is the highly interdependent nature of the service delivery system. This interdependence is particularly notable between the governmental and the nonprofit environments. It is the rare nonprofit human service organization that does not count on a portion (sometimes a large portion) of its funding from governmental sources. Whether an agency depends on food subsidies to keep its day care costs low or on social service contracts to provide foster care, the independent, community-based, voluntary nature of nonprofits is somewhat of a myth. Because of this apparent interdependence, services in the private sector seem to be almost as political as those in the government sector, just in different ways.
 
For-Profit Organizations For-profits are businesses, sometimes called corporations. They are part of the commercial or market economy. They must pay taxes. They have boards of directors who generally are compensated and they may have investors or stockholders, all of whom can benefit financially from the organization’s profits.
For-profit organizations have always been part of the human service landscape, but have become more involved in service delivery since the 1960s. For example, “between 1965 and 1985, for-profit centers and chains emerged as the fastest growing source of child care in the United States,” increasing from 7% to 24% of the market niche serving the child care needs of employed parents (Tuominen, 1991, pp. 450-451). Another example is the nursing home industry, which is predominantly run by for-profit businesses. With privatization of human services, which has emerged as a cost-saving scheme at the national and state levels, the once-assumed distinctions between profit and nonprofit, governmental, and nongovernmental entities are blurring. Many for-profit agencies are competing against nonprofits for governmental service contracts. In addition, non-profit organizations may even create for-profit agencies to generate income that can be contributed to their causes. For example, for-profit thrift stores are often a stable source of income for nonprofit groups that are highly involved in human service delivery.
 
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