• Gladys Kreutzmann
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
This dissertation uses systems theory to investigate expectations created by the initiation of values-based management in an organisation following government reforms in Denmark in 2007. The feasibility of establishing a common values base in an organisation and extending it to external partners is investigated within the field of social work. Finally, the establishment of values-communication as a common organisational reference point for the creation of structure in an organisation is discussed. The research is located in Thisted District Council. In this context, the research focuses on how values-based management is implemented and extended to external institutions: in this case, public care homes for disabled people. The decision to adopt values-based management is based on society’s functional differentiation, as well as on the increasing complexity of the new organisation following the structural reforms. It can be further explained as an association with and adoption of a political decision. The decision on values-based management in the new organisation was first mentioned at a workshop for the new District Council’s managers. Here, the concept of values-based management was communicated with a set of targets comprising explicit values aimed at establishing commitment to, ownership of and passion for the organisation. The targets were subsequently debated in the organisation’s subsystems with expectations that values-based communication could be established as a common reference point in the organisation. The data collected show that the targets presented at the workshop have primarily functioned as a starting point for local debate on values-based management. This local debate is supported by focused discussions with staff about their personal values in relation to working practices. This process contributed positively to the emergence of a local values base. However, the local values base was not explicitly linked to the overall targets. Towards the end of the research process, a sea-change was observed in the communication on values. A new organ, the staff-management committee (MHU), which is the organisation’s highest forum of cooperation, adopted the concept of values-based management, as a decision was taken to adopt common values as a goal for improving the working environment by carrying out job satisfaction surveys and management assessments. This shows a new dimension of meaning attributed to the communication on values-based management. My research shows that the communication on values-based management created different expectations among the organisation’s subsystems. The communication on values management has first and foremost contributed to the organisation’s and subsystems’ self images. However, an unambiguous reference point following the introduction of values-based management in the organisation has not yet been established. It is concluded that MHU’s further communication on values has significant implications for the extent to which communication on values-management will wither or flourish. Progressive decisions in this forum and in other systems have implications for how the values concept can be construed in the long-term as a common reference point in the organisation. This research recommends a reflexive response to the initiation of values-based management, with a recommendation on the reflection on the identified targets, a reflection on the meaning of the values for the tenets and mores (doxa) of the organisation’s subsystems, a media strategy and a strategy for inclusion. This reflexive response can be summarised as follows: Best Practice is Next Practice to Lex Practice. The research recommends a general evaluation of the concept of values-based management, so that experience, initiatives and expectations can be used as a constructive starting point for organisational learning processes. From the perspective of systems theory, the autopoiesis (self-referencing) of the communication will continue to enable the evolution of structure, with or without values-based management and with or without evaluation. The final conclusion is that systems theory offers a new perspective on social work: a constructive application of the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion can open paths for the development of social work through action and reflection.
Publication date2008
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 14619564