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Managing the electronic turn

Jochen Devlieghere (UGent) , Rudi Roose (UGent) and Tony Evans
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Abstract
Information systems have become ubiquitous across social work, leading to an electronic turn. A key tension is that IT embedded procedures can be counterproductive, encouraging those involved to direct their behaviour to comply with specific measures, rather than address the real issue for which the measures are just a proxy. This is particularly an issue for local managers, who have direct contact with service users and who increasingly mediate the impact of systems of control, such as Electronic Information Systems (IS). We interviewed 30 local managers in the field of child welfare and protection (CWP) in Flanders, Belgium to grasp their position towards this electronic turn. The interviewees identified aspects of the IS as suitable and useful to manage their team, but also expressed their concerns regarding the impact of the inflexible implementation of IS for the development of responsive social work. Most of the managers also talked about how they used strategies of management discretion to bend, reshape or even ignore IS procedures. The result seems to be a mock bureaucracy where official rules and procedures are in place, but local managers develop a parallel system of work that better reflects the needs with which they have to work.
Keywords
Child welfare and protection, discretion, electronic information systems, managers, OCIAL-WORK, STREET-LEVEL, COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES, QUALITATIVE RESEARCH, INFORMATION, MANAGEMENT, DISCRETION, SYSTEM, CHILDREN, POLICY

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MLA
Devlieghere, Jochen, et al. “Managing the Electronic Turn.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, vol. 23, no. 5, 2020, pp. 767–78, doi:10.1080/13691457.2019.1582009.
APA
Devlieghere, J., Roose, R., & Evans, T. (2020). Managing the electronic turn. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, 23(5), 767–778. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2019.1582009
Chicago author-date
Devlieghere, Jochen, Rudi Roose, and Tony Evans. 2020. “Managing the Electronic Turn.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK 23 (5): 767–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2019.1582009.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Devlieghere, Jochen, Rudi Roose, and Tony Evans. 2020. “Managing the Electronic Turn.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK 23 (5): 767–778. doi:10.1080/13691457.2019.1582009.
Vancouver
1.
Devlieghere J, Roose R, Evans T. Managing the electronic turn. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK. 2020;23(5):767–78.
IEEE
[1]
J. Devlieghere, R. Roose, and T. Evans, “Managing the electronic turn,” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 767–778, 2020.
@article{8614394,
  abstract     = {Information systems have become ubiquitous across social work, leading to an electronic turn. A key tension is that IT embedded procedures can be counterproductive, encouraging those involved to direct their behaviour to comply with specific measures, rather than address the real issue for which the measures are just a proxy. This is particularly an issue for local managers, who have direct contact with service users and who increasingly mediate the impact of systems of control, such as Electronic Information Systems (IS). We interviewed 30 local managers in the field of child welfare and protection (CWP) in Flanders, Belgium to grasp their position towards this electronic turn. The interviewees identified aspects of the IS as suitable and useful to manage their team, but also expressed their concerns regarding the impact of the inflexible implementation of IS for the development of responsive social work. Most of the managers also talked about how they used strategies of management discretion to bend, reshape or even ignore IS procedures. The result seems to be a mock bureaucracy where official rules and procedures are in place, but local managers develop a parallel system of work that better reflects the needs with which they have to work.},
  author       = {Devlieghere, Jochen and Roose, Rudi and Evans, Tony},
  issn         = {1369-1457},
  journal      = {EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK},
  keywords     = {Child welfare and protection,discretion,electronic information systems,managers,OCIAL-WORK,STREET-LEVEL,COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES,QUALITATIVE RESEARCH,INFORMATION,MANAGEMENT,DISCRETION,SYSTEM,CHILDREN,POLICY},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {767--778},
  title        = {Managing the electronic turn},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2019.1582009},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2020},
}

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