The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

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

Enhancing the Practice of Organizational and Managerial Human Service Scholarship: Translating Theory to Practice

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 103B Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Organizations, Management, and Communities
Bowen McBeath, PhD, Portland State University, Jennifer Mosley, PhD, University of Chicago, Erick Guerrero, PhD, University of Southern California, Karen M. Hopkins, PhD, University of Maryland, John Tropman, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Michael J. Austin, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
This workshop aims to describe, illustrate, and provide opportunities to reflect on novel approaches to organizational and management (O&M) human service scholarship.  The undergirding premise behind the workshop is that it is important to understand and reveal the ways in which researchers in social work and associated disciplines engage in the “practice” of O&M human service scholarship.  Specifically, the workshop is designed to introduce different approaches represented in the social work and social science literature to help participants:
  • Conceptualize and use theory relevant to O&M human service nouns (e.g., organizational structure), verbs (e.g., interorganizational collaboration), and processes;
  • Develop and refine research questions that usefully link theory, science, and practice;
  • Choose among diverse scholarly and scientific tools to explore the multilevel factors associated with social work-relevant outcomes;
  • Understand and evaluate theoretical and evidentiary claims using different epistemological lenses; and
  • Engage in knowledge use and translation with an eye towards utility for different stakeholder groups.

The workshop is organized into three interconnected sections that reflect these areas of scholarly/scientific practice and engage workshop participants around the question of how to craft theory- and practice-rich O&M human service scholarship.  The first hour is devoted to a synthetic review of common theoretical platforms used to explore and enhance understanding of (1) macro-level O&M human service processes (e.g., new institutional theory, network theory, principal-agent theory, organizational culture/climate theories) and (2) meso-level processes that connect organizational design, management, and frontline practices and client outcomes (e.g., structuration theory, sense-making, street-level bureaucracy, leadership theories).  The second hour assesses exemplars from the O&M human service literature of how these theories can be used to draw linkages between macro, meso, and frontline O&M efforts in different human service fields of practice (e.g., child welfare, mental health, substance abuse treatment).  These examples, partially drawn from research conducted by workshop organizers, will illustrate different approaches to developing theoretically-coherent and practice-relevant O&M research.  Finally, in alignment with an experiential focus for the overall workshop, the third hour provides opportunities to use these and other frameworks in linking theory to practice.   Workshop participants will be invited to discuss challenges relating to their own scholarship and guided to balance theoretical rigor and practical applications in producing deliverables (e.g., manuscripts, grant proposals). 

To maximize the use of the three hours and help participants apply workshop themes, participants will be asked to submit a pre-workshop document describing an in-progress piece of scholarship/research they would like to focus on during the workshop.  Workshop organizers will also tailor specific workshop content to participants’ interest areas and current projects, and will send participants workshop materials in advance.  The third hour of the workshop will culminate in participants identifying action steps for moving their scholarly efforts towards peer-reviewed journal submission.  Post-workshop, participants will be encouraged to remain engaged with workshop organizers and one another electronically to refine their scholarship-in-progress.  These pre-, during-, and post-workshop mechanisms are designed to provide peer/professional support for workshop participants at all career levels and across diverse institutional settings.

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