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Utvecklingsarbete som styrteknik: en analys av hur utvecklingsledare erfar makt i de regionala stöd- och samverkansstrukturerna
Lunds kommun.ORCID iD: 0009-0001-9671-853X
Socialhögskolan, Lunds universitet.
2024 (Swedish)In: Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, ISSN 1104-1420, E-ISSN 2003-5624, Vol. 30, no 3, p. 719-738Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Development work as governance technique - an analysis of how development leaders experience power in Swedish regional support and cooperation structures.

In this article, we study the experiences of power carried out by regional development leaders in Swedish regional support and cooperation structures (RSS) within the state’s governance of social services. The article answers two questions regarding: 1) the development leaders’ experiences of power in vertical and horizontal control rationalities in governmental knowledge management, and 2) the significance these experiences have for their understanding and comprehension of governance. The context is the national strategy on the knowledge management of social services. Knowledge management is exercised through interaction between the state, regional structures, government agencies, and RSS, implemented as a partnership.

Our analysis is based on a series of recurring group interviews carried out as research circles with six regional development leaders. The analysis model in the article is primarily based on concepts such as control rationality, social technologies, and the relational exercise of power as a manifestation of normative power through subtle forms of control.

The analysis reveals that the development leaders’ diverse experiences with power are shaped by the underlying governance rationalities in their operating context. In horizontal governance, they describe feeling a sense of participation and autonomy. In contrast, their experience of vertical governance is characterised by a feeling that someone else is in control. Their understanding of how power is constructed influences how they perform governance. They define governance as development, meaning a governance technique that allows for action and a sense of participation. We argue that development work should be considered a subtle social technology based on relational power, which organisations and professionals should recognise and put into concrete action.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Förbundet för forskning i socialt arbete (FORSA) , 2024. Vol. 30, no 3, p. 719-738
Keywords [en]
state governance, governance technique, power, development work, social services
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-65078DOI: 10.3384/svt.2023.30.3.4496OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-65078DiVA, id: diva2:1828942
Available from: 2024-01-17 Created: 2024-01-17 Last updated: 2024-01-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Statlig kunskapsstyrning: regionala utvecklingsledare i styrning av socialtjänstens barnavård
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Statlig kunskapsstyrning: regionala utvecklingsledare i styrning av socialtjänstens barnavård
2023 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Consisting of four scientific papers and a comprehensive overview, this thesis concerns governance in and of social work. More specifically, it studies governing of knowledge in social service with children and youth. Through the growing focus on evidence-based social work since 2000, state governing of knowledge has become an increasingly established concept. In general terms, it refers to the national level’s efforts to govern based on knowledge in order to solve social services’ ”knowledge problems”. However, there are more aspects to state governing of knowledge. Thus, this thesis focuses on the doing of such governance – a praxis that involves actors at national, regional and municipal levels. Here, regional development leaders in social service with children and youth are one of the central actors; consequently, they constitute the empirical focus of the thesis when analysing the doing of governing of knowledge. 

The aim of this study is to describe and analyse how state governing of knowledge is conducted by examining how development leaders perceive and concretise the task of governing of knowledge in social service’s childcare. The overall questions are as follows: 1. How do regional development leaders in social service with children and youth perceive and interpret the EBP knowledge model in relation to their task? 2. How do regional development leaders act when they govern with knowledge within social service? 3. What characterizes the professional practice of regional development leaders, and how can we understand it in the context of governance?

Data have been collected through individual interviews and focus group interviews with 28 regional development leaders. In addition, the empirical material includes a field study with participant observations during network meetings and a questionnaire survey with 29 development leaders. The data have been analysed from three theoretical perspectives: governance as floating signifier, governance as joint doing, and governance as a relational exercise of power. The first perspective, governance as floating signifier, implies that governance changes over time, both in terms of how it can be understood and how it is applied. The second perspective, governance as joint doing, refers to governance as it takes place in and through interaction between actors involved in governance. Here, we can note a mutual influence between those who govern and those who are being governed. The third perspective focuses on power as a central element of governance and how it is constructed in a relational interaction between actors who are part of a common context of governance.

The analysis shows that the ambiguity that surrounds state governing of knowledge creates a discretion for interpretation and action. This gives development leaders the opportunity to saturate their work with their own content, depending on the purpose and context, which is very much about developing and organising social work in social services. Working with development, change and innovation is thus of importance in the governing of knowledge of social service with children and youth. In carrying out their tasks, development leaders combine hierarchical top-down management with horizontal, relational management. This becomes evident in the development leaders’ choice of governance practices, which involves networking with managers in senior positions who have a mandate to make decisions. The interaction between development leaders and managers is characterised by mutual influence, which results in development leaders sacrificing certain areas of their mission in favour of activities that managers consider important to implement. Such governance praxis is likely to have implications for the outcomes of governing of knowledge. The establishment of the development leader as an actor in the governing of social work can be understood as a reaction to changing institutional conditions for the management and organisation of the public sector. The work of development leaders is characterised by a hybridised professional practice: they integrate seemingly incompatible logics and thus have to manage different tensions in a professional role, which is probably a prerequisite for navigating complex governing tasks. 

 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Malmö: Malmö University Press, 2023. p. 106
Series
Malmö University Health and Society Dissertations, ISSN 1653-5383 ; 2023:1
Keywords
Kunskapsstyrning, socialt arbete, evidensbaserad praktik, regionala utvecklingsledare, socialtjänstens barnavård
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Health and society
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-58575 (URN)10.24834/isbn.9789178773428 (DOI)978-91-7877-343-5 (ISBN)978-91-7877-342-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-03-31, NI:C0E11, Niagara, Nordenskiöldsgatan 1, Malmö, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Due to copyright reasons, the articles are not included in the fulltext online.

Paper IV in dissertation as manuscript.

Available from: 2023-03-07 Created: 2023-03-07 Last updated: 2024-03-07Bibliographically approved

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Liebenstein Gegner, Harald

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