New public management and information communication technology : organisational influences on frontline child protection practice

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Webster, M.
McNabb, David
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Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
new public management (NPM)
results based accountability (RBA)
information and communications technology (ICT)
common factors (CF)
child protection practice
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Webster, M., & McNabb, D. J. (2016). New public management and information communication technology: Organisational influences on frontline child protection practice. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 28(2), pp.51-63
In this paper the authors examine the new public management (NPM) philosophy influencing the organisational environment in which child protection social workers are located. NPM prioritises outputs through policies, such as results based accountability (RBA) predicated on the expectation that responsibility to achieve designated programme outcomes is sheeted to the agency and its workers. Ongoing funding depends on programme results. NPM ideology assumes that workers and managers in agencies tasked with delivering care and protection services are able to control the variables influencing outputs which contribute to outcomes. The authors will analyse four key aspects of NPM thinking (RBA, outputs, outcomes and key performance indicators) and explore their organisational consequences. The influence on social work practice of information and communications technology (ICT), on which NPM depends, is also considered. The paper is not an ideologically based rejection of NPM, but rather an assessment of its consequences for care and protection practice. The authors call for a return to the centrality of relationally based social work processes embodied in common factors (CF) practice, such as the therapeutic alliance. We argue that CF approaches offer a contrasting and more appropriate practice philosophy than NPM thinking while still enabling achievable, multifaceted organisational benefits.
Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers
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