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Article

Ageism and Retirement  

Lynn McDonald

Retirement is a modest social institution that appeared in most industrialized nations near the start of the 20th century. The aim of retirement was to solve the societal dilemma of an increasingly aged labor force by moving older workers systematically out of their jobs so as to not cause them financial harm (Atchley, 1980, p. 264). Although retirement has been considered benign since its inception, the history of retirement indicates that it is one of the main progenitors of ageism in society today (Atchley, 1982, 1993; Haber & Gratton, 1994; McDonald, 2013; Walker, 1990). Retirement and its accompanying stereotypes have been used as a tool for the management of the size and composition of the labor force contingent on the dictums of current markets in any given historical era. Ever-changing ideologies about older adults that extend from negative to positive ageism have been utilized by business, government, the public, and the media to support whatever justification is required in a particular era, with little thought to the harm perpetrated on older adults. Unfortunately, society has subscribed to these justifications en masse, including older adults themselves. In this article the ageism embedded in retirement is examined to make what is implicit explicit to social work practitioners and policymakers in the field of aging.

Article

Corporate Settings  

David Stoesz and Catherine Born

For-profit health and human service corporations afford a range of employment opportunities for professional social workers, although organizational structures may not resemble those of nonprofit and government agencies, and these settings may present new professional challenges. Corporations have become prominent, in some cases dominant, providers in fields as disparate as hospital management and nursing home care, child and adult daycare, residential treatment, managed health care, welfare eligibility and job placement, child support, and corrections. For-profit expansion across the array of health and human services continues, which bodes well for social workers willing to consider corporations as a practice setting. Opponents of commercial human services worry that adverse client selection criteria may screen out the most troubled individuals and about possible corner-cutting in service delivery to meet fiscal targets. The general concern is that, in these firms, profit may trump program. Others strongly believe that the profit motive is simply incompatible with the human service mission. Proponents claim that benefits include management and cost efficiencies, nimbleness, ease and speed of innovation, and technological prowess. The emergence of new commercial entities such as benefit corporations that commit to creating social benefit, not just profit, are also touted. Arguments aside, the neoliberal social policy vector that emerged in the later decades of the 20th century encourages the outsourcing of public services. Thus, privatization in the form of corporate human services may continue to expand and almost certainly will continue to exert influence in health and human services policy, programming, and service delivery for the foreseeable future.

Article

Leadership Development in Social Work and Military Settings  

Gary M. Bess, James J. Kelly, James B. Macdonald, and James J. Woolever

Theorists have struggled with a myriad of definitions of leadership, as well as trait, behavioral, and situational leadership models. They have identified leadership types from transformational and charismatic to motivational. There has been much speculation and some study of the traits and characteristics of effective leaders, as well as effective leadership styles, abilities, and practices. Social work theorists have contributed to this field by identifying the critical and unique characteristics of social work leadership, such as adherence to social work norms and orientation to the needs of disadvantaged groups. Today, social workers build on leadership theories and utilize emerging technologies for creating tomorrow’s leaders through practices, such as formal training, coaching, mentoring, and peer networking. There has always been—and will be—a critical need for leadership in health and human services fields, as well as other endeavors, such as military social work, where social work practices contribute to optimal benefit for individuals and institutions. Indeed, leadership development can be viewed from two perspectives: the individual and the organizational. From the individual perspective, while innate leadership skills may be present, it is also learned, and it begins with a critical assessment of the individual’s strengths and limitations, as well as resources for professional growth. From an organizational perspective, there are also numerous views on how things get done and the role of the leader as a changemaker. After an overview of leadership from a definitional and early models’ discussion, a transition to social work leadership takes place, comparing and contrasting its tenets with conventional leadership literature in the context of health and human services organizations, and the unique requirements and skills for social work leaders across a range of employment venues, including increasing numbers of social work-trained officers in the military. Observations are made concerning the future of social work practice.

Article

Social Planning  

Larry M. Gant and Lorraine Gutiérrez

Social planning emphasizes the application of rational problem-solving techniques and data-driven approaches to identify, determine, and help coordinate services for target populations. Social planning is carried out by a myriad of organizations—from federal agencies to community organizations—attempting to solve problems ranging from child welfare to aging.