Cost-Consciousness in Social Work: From Tensions to Professionalism (Omkostningsbevidsthed i socialt arbejde: fra spændingsfelt til professionalisme)

Tidsskrift for Professionsstudier, Forthcoming

Posted: 4 Jun 2020 Last revised: 25 Jun 2020

See all articles by Per Nikolaj Bukh

Per Nikolaj Bukh

Aalborg University - Department of Business and Management

Karina Skovvang Christensen

Aarhus University - CREATES

Anne Kirstine Svanholt

Aalborg University - Department of Business and Management

Date Written: January 11, 2020

Abstract

English abstract: This article examines how managers in a municipal social service department use and interpret accounting information and make sense of changes in social work when new methods of cost control, and consequently a need for a more cost-conscious behavior, are introduced. Previous studies have shown that the extent to which accounting information has been embraced by professionals is mixed. Based on a case study where top management, middle management, and staff specialists at a medium-sized Danish municipality are interviewed, it is shown that accounting information can link cost-consciousness with social work practices. The study shows how managers can influence how professionals interpret and use accounting information. Further, the study shows how cost-consciousness can be integrated with social work practices in order to reduce costs and improve the quality of the services. In addition, the study shows how management interpret accounting information as a contribution to the professionalization of social work, and that managers’ sense-making and sense-giving processes are important in reducing resistance when professionals are introduced to new forms of accounting information.

Danish abstract: Denne artikel undersøger, hvordan ledere i en kommunal socialforvaltning anvender og fortol-ker omkostningsinformation. Specifikt fokuseres der på, hvordan ændringer i det sociale arbejde initieres, når nye metoder til omkostningsstyring – og som konsekvens heraf en mere omkost-ningsbevidst adfærd – introduceres. Tidligere forskning har vist blandede resultater, hvad angår fagprofessionelles accept af økonomisk styring. Baseret på et casestudie, hvor topledelse, mel-lemledere og stabsmedarbejdere interviewes, vises det, hvordan omkostningsinformation kan knytte omkostningsbevidsthed sammen med social arbejdspraksis. Studiet viser, hvordan om-kostningsbevidsthed kan integreres i socialt arbejde, så omkostninger reduceres, og kvalitet styrkes. Desuden vises det, hvordan ledere opfatter omkostningsinformation som en professio-nalisering af det sociale arbejde, samt at lederes meningsskabelse og meningsgivelse er vigtige for at mindske modstand mod forandringer, når ny omkostningsinformation introduceres.

Keywords: Accounting, Budgeting, Cost-Consciousness, Sensemaking, Social Work

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Bukh, Per Nikolaj and Christensen, Karina Skovvang and Svanholt, Anne Kirstine, Cost-Consciousness in Social Work: From Tensions to Professionalism (Omkostningsbevidsthed i socialt arbejde: fra spændingsfelt til professionalisme) (January 11, 2020). Tidsskrift for Professionsstudier, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3573252

Per Nikolaj Bukh (Contact Author)

Aalborg University - Department of Business and Management ( email )

Aalborg, DK-9220
Denmark

Karina Skovvang Christensen

Aarhus University - CREATES ( email )

School of Economics and Management
Building 1322, Bartholins Alle 10
DK-8000 Aarhus C
Denmark

Anne Kirstine Svanholt

Aalborg University - Department of Business and Management ( email )

Aalborg, DK-9220
Denmark

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