This study examines the Israeli social workers` perception of social and economic exchange with their employers in context of their organizational affiliation and seniority. The work environment in the profession of social work is a very central issue since it has many personal, professional and organizational implications regarding social workers. Studies related to social workers' professional work explored the psycho-social aspects such as burnout and turnover; organizational aspects such as affective-commitment, job-satisfaction and power relationships; and economical aspects such as material interest and salary. However, the social and economic exchange between social workers and their employer in the context of their organization affiliation in the mix welfare market (governmental, third sector and for-profit sector) has not been thoroughly explored yet.
The current study utilized a convenience sample since there is no publicly available database on the workplaces of the social workers in the three sectors. The study included 824 social workers: 454 (55.1%) from the governmental sector, 254 (30.8%) from the third sector, and 116 (14.1%) from the for-profit sector. A two-way ANOVA was conducted to examine the effects of organizational affiliation and seniority on social and economic exchange among social workers.
The most noticeable finding is the lower level of social exchange among social workers in the governmental sector organizations (M=2.96, SD=.65) compared to the other sectors: third sector (M=3.13, SD=.71) and for-profit sector (M=3.14, SD=.74). Another significant finding is the fact that seniority is not associated with social exchange, but it is associated with economic exchange. The most senior social workers (11 years and more) (M=2.03, SD= .64) displayed lower levels of economic exchange than social workers with low (M=2.19, SD=.63) and moderate seniority(M=2.17, SD=.66). In addition, social workers with low seniority in the governmental sector organizations were found to have lower economic exchange rates (M=2.04, SD=.63) than those with the same seniority in the other two sectors: third sector (M=2.28, SD=.62) and for-profit sector (M=2.34, SD=.58) (F(2,268)=6.43, p<0.01).
It appears that the partial privatization process has led to a reduction in the social exchange in governmental sector organizations, while it has risen in the other two sectors due to the transfer of professional roles to them. Concurrently, the economic security is higher among social workers in governmental organizations. Therefore, it might be necessary to develop a policy by which it is possible to strengthen social exchange among social workers in governmental sector organizations, so that not only those who are motivated by the need for economic security will remain in this sector. In follow-up studies it is advisable to examine the degree of clients' satisfaction in the three sectors in order to understand the impact that the social and economic exchange of social workers may have on their clients.