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Mike Devine Successfully Defends PhD

Top Row (L-R) Dr. Bruce Sheppard, Dr. Donna Hardy-Cox, Dr. Nancy Sullivan, Bottom Row (L-R) Dr. Dennis Kimberley, Dr. Mike Devine, Dr. Carolyn HarleyCongratulations to Mike Devine who successfully defended his dissertation on October 5, 2006 titled, Social Workers' Participation in Organizational Change: Inputs, Impacts, and Commitment.

The Examining Committee, which was chaired by Dr. Carolyn Harley (Professor, Dept of Psychology, MUN) included Dr. Roger Delaney (Professor, School of Social Work, Lakehead University); Dr. Donna Hardy-Cox (Associate Professor, School of Social Work, MUN); Dr. Bruce Sheppard (Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, MUN).

The Supervisory Committee, which was chaired by Dr. Dennis Kimberley (Professor, School of Social Work, MUN) included Dr. Janet Fitzpatrick (Associate Professor, School of Social Work, MUN); Dr. Henry Schulz (Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, MUN); Dr. John Graham (Professor, School of Social Work, University of Calgary).


Social Workers’ Participation in Organizational Change: Inputs, Impacts, and Commitment

The purpose of this case study is to elicit the perceptions of social workers of the costs and benefits related to a pervasive and rapid organizational change process. The costs and benefits are analysed within the context of an expanded version of the Bolman and Deal (1991, 1997) model for organizational analysis within a case study design. The study employs a method of triangulation in its approach to analysis. The first part of the study includes an analysis of selected government and government related documents (7 documents), primarily leading up the organizational change processes and products. The second part of the study analyzes the participants’ selected experiences of the change processes as conceptualized through the use of six (6) quantitative questionnaires related to commitment, leadership, intention to turnover (by employees), and organizational change experiences. The population under study includes all social workers (160) in a particular organization which had experienced the integration of key selected traditional social work programs (Child Welfare, Community Living, and Youth Corrections) being integrated from a provincial government model to a community health board governed model. The third part of the study includes in-person interviews with selected participants (social workers) who had experienced the organizational change process and products (the move from the government governed model to the community board governed model).

The results of the study demonstrated that changes were needed to improve service delivery mechanisms. The actual change process itself indicated that participants’ commitment to the organization was less than adequate and that participants reported moderate to strong intentions to leave the organization. Front line leadership styles (in terms of transformational and transactional leadership) were also reported to be lacking at a time in which one would expect or hope for strong leadership qualities in all of its leaders. Finally, participants reported that they did not have the levels of input into organizational change processes and products that they would liked to have had.

The study employs an exploratory case study design methodology. However, it does provide beginning insights into the challenges to rapid and pervasive organizational change in human services organizations. The study makes a number of recommendations regarding how the processes may be improved, as well as the implications for social work research, education, and practice.