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Top-down policy implementation and social workers as institutional entrepreneurs : the case of an electronic information eystem in Belgium

Joris De Corte (UGent) , Jochen Devlieghere (UGent) , Griet Roets (UGent) and Rudi Roose (UGent)
(2019) BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK. 49(5). p.1317-1332
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Abstract
In this article, we focus on how social workers use their agency when implementing top-down policy measures as street-level bureaucrats. We report on findings of a case study that was conducted in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium, about the top-down introduction of an electronic information system (IS) in the field of Child Welfare and Protection (CWP). Starting from insights derived from neoinstitutional theory, we explore how social workers perform a role as so-called 'institutional entrepreneurs' by initiating critical reflections about policy rationales. In our contribution, we show that, despite social workers' awareness of being embedded in their own field or service area, they use their field-level expertise and day-to-day experiences to disengage from this context as well. Besides unravelling the lack of coherence informing the IS's initial ambitions of transparency and efficiency, they constantly (re)frame their views and explain their alternative ideas with the aim of convincing other social workers and managers. In this vein, we conclude by highlighting the importance of 'distributed' forms of agency that involve a gradual process, which is co-produced by social workers as street-level bureaucrats in close collaboration with service users, other professionals, other organisations and policy makers.
Keywords
Social Sciences (miscellaneous), Health(social science), Social policy, reflexive practice, childcare, social work and IT, registration, STREET-LEVEL, AGENCY, ORGANIZATIONS, FIELDS, ACTORS

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MLA
De Corte, Joris, et al. “Top-down Policy Implementation and Social Workers as Institutional Entrepreneurs : The Case of an Electronic Information Eystem in Belgium.” BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, vol. 49, no. 5, 2019, pp. 1317–32.
APA
De Corte, J., Devlieghere, J., Roets, G., & Roose, R. (2019). Top-down policy implementation and social workers as institutional entrepreneurs : the case of an electronic information eystem in Belgium. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, 49(5), 1317–1332.
Chicago author-date
De Corte, Joris, Jochen Devlieghere, Griet Roets, and Rudi Roose. 2019. “Top-down Policy Implementation and Social Workers as Institutional Entrepreneurs : The Case of an Electronic Information Eystem in Belgium.” BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK 49 (5): 1317–32.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
De Corte, Joris, Jochen Devlieghere, Griet Roets, and Rudi Roose. 2019. “Top-down Policy Implementation and Social Workers as Institutional Entrepreneurs : The Case of an Electronic Information Eystem in Belgium.” BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK 49 (5): 1317–1332.
Vancouver
1.
De Corte J, Devlieghere J, Roets G, Roose R. Top-down policy implementation and social workers as institutional entrepreneurs : the case of an electronic information eystem in Belgium. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK. 2019;49(5):1317–32.
IEEE
[1]
J. De Corte, J. Devlieghere, G. Roets, and R. Roose, “Top-down policy implementation and social workers as institutional entrepreneurs : the case of an electronic information eystem in Belgium,” BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, vol. 49, no. 5, pp. 1317–1332, 2019.
@article{8585857,
  abstract     = {In this article, we focus on how social workers use their agency when implementing top-down policy measures as street-level bureaucrats. We report on findings of a case study that was conducted in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium, about the top-down introduction of an electronic information system (IS) in the field of Child Welfare and Protection (CWP). Starting from insights derived from neoinstitutional theory, we explore how social workers perform a role as so-called 'institutional entrepreneurs' by initiating critical reflections about policy rationales. In our contribution, we show that, despite social workers' awareness of being embedded in their own field or service area, they use their field-level expertise and day-to-day experiences to disengage from this context as well. Besides unravelling the lack of coherence informing the IS's initial ambitions of transparency and efficiency, they constantly (re)frame their views and explain their alternative ideas with the aim of convincing other social workers and managers. In this vein, we conclude by highlighting the importance of 'distributed' forms of agency that involve a gradual process, which is co-produced by social workers as street-level bureaucrats in close collaboration with service users, other professionals, other organisations and policy makers.},
  author       = {De Corte, Joris and Devlieghere, Jochen and Roets, Griet and Roose, Rudi},
  issn         = {0045-3102},
  journal      = {BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK},
  keywords     = {Social Sciences (miscellaneous),Health(social science),Social policy,reflexive practice,childcare,social work and IT,registration,STREET-LEVEL,AGENCY,ORGANIZATIONS,FIELDS,ACTORS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {1317--1332},
  title        = {Top-down policy implementation and social workers as institutional entrepreneurs : the case of an electronic information eystem in Belgium},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcy094},
  volume       = {49},
  year         = {2019},
}

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