The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Do Social Work Values Transcend Culture? : Comparison of Korean and U.S. Social Workers

Friday, January 17, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Yongseok Kim, PhD, Professor, Catholic University of Korea, Bucheon, South Korea
Junghee Lee, PhD, Associate Professor, Portland State University, Portland, OR
William Donlan, PhD, Associate Professor, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Purpose: Due to rapid industrialization and economic growth in South Korea in recent years, there have been major changes in South Korean demographics. The size of labor market by immigrant workers are expanding and the number of international marriage is increasing significantly. There are increasing concerns over discrimination, abuse and human right violation among those populations. While social workers are in a position to advocate for the inclusion of vulnerable populations, there are growing concerns that social work education has been focused on preparing students for the Social Worker Licensure Examination. There is almost a complete absence of information about the value orientation and skills among social work practitioners in South Korea to meet these challenges. This study aims to examine the social work value orientation and skills compare to U.S. social workers.

Methods: The Professional Opinion Scale (POS) (Abbot, 2003) and the Practice Skills Inventory (O’Hare, 2002) were utilized to measure social workers’ orientation toward social work values and skills. The scales were translated by social work faculty who received doctoral degree in the U.S., and then back translated. Mailed and in-person survey was conducted in 2011 with 325 social workers. Among them, 76% were females; age range was 22-55 with mean of 32; 67% had college degree and 33% of master/doctoral degree; all of them possessed social work licenses; and 13% were working at mental health clinics. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted, and ANCOVA was utilized to test the differences between community vs.clinical social workers on value orientations and skills controlling for age and gender effects.

Results: A series of confirmatory factor analysis was followed to validate a Korean version of the POS. The initial analysis on the 40-item POS failed to confirm the four-factor structure of the POS. After removing 6 items with loadings less than .30 which was the criterion used in Abbott’s article, 34-item model was analyzed. All factor loadings were above .30, but CFI and TLI were somewhat low. The final model was run with an error correlation suggested by modification indices. This final model resulted in acceptable factor loadings and fit indices. All factor loadings were above the >.30 criterion and the fit indices were c2 (520, N=291) =1029.50, p <.001; c2/df = 1.98; CFI = .88; TLI = .87; RMSEA = .058. Differences were not found between community vs. clinical social workers in value orientations, but their use of social work skills were significantly different.   

Conclusion: The POS and its Korean version of the POS have the same factor structure (4 factors each). 26 items were included in both the POS and its Korean version and loaded on the same factor. This means that social work values might transcend culture. However, several items included in the POS were excluded from its Korean version and vice versa. This result indicates that there are some values not shared by both groups. Cultural and individual differences may explain the difference between the groups. Different supervisions could explain the different use of skills.