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A theory of coordination : an examination of its practice in three welfare organizations in Hobart


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Chandraratna, Moragoda Vitana Don (1979) A theory of coordination : an examination of its practice in three welfare organizations in Hobart. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In recent times social welfare workers, like all other
professional groups involved in the personal services which are
designed to mould, remould, and adjust the social and psychological
wellbeing of a large proportion of the population, have demanded a
comprehensive approach to serving their clients. This is a
resultant of a recognition of social problems in a new light,
dependent upon the increased knowledge and skill of the professional
experts as well as a felt gap in the amelioration of such social
problems. This study has identified the latter problem as
belonging to the area of interorganizational coordination and as
deserving of careful and detailed study. Evidence is gathered to
show that it is an area of concern to the professionals in the
field, welfare administrators, as well as to the sociologists
interested in social welfare.
By using existing literature on the sociology of organizations,
the concept of coordination has been treated as embodying those
interactions between organizations which are of a facilitative
nature. Along the conventional paradigms of problem oriented
sociological research three types of variables, namely, analytic
(information about members), structural (information about relations
among members and the frameworks within which such relations occur),
and global (information about systems of organizations), have been
identified and discussed as critical components of a theory of
coordination. The theoretical framework on coordination is
designed to illustrate how much better we can understand that
substantive area of sociology commonly designated as 'interorganizational
relations'. Moreover, the usefulness of major
theoretical perspectives in sociology, such as structural-functionalism,
exchange theory and systems theory has been
demonstrated in relating the different variables to the theory.
From the refined theoretical framework twelve hypotheses were
enunciated to test out empirically the nature of coordinating
networks in three welfare organizations in Hobart.
The results of the empirical study have shown the
extent and intensity of facilitative interorganizational interactions
that take place in the welfare scene in Hobart, seen from the
vantage points of the three organizations included in the study.
It has also shown how the efforts of the workers in the three
organizations resulted in a network of both private and public
organizations, whose function, program, and the strength of the
interaction could be fully understood in terms of the essentials
of the postulated theory. We have seen that the differential
emphasis given to outside transactions has many antecedent
variables, analytic, structural, as well as global. For example,
there was sufficient evidence to argue that lines of authority,
notions of hierarchy, control of decision making power, combined
(vi) with individual attributes of workers, moulded not only the
internal dynamics of an organization, but outside exchanges as
well. There was a negative association between organizational
attributes such as hierarchy and centralized decision making,
and interorganizational behaviour of employees. The professionally
qualified workers in the two main organizations studied regarded
the presence of such organizational guidelines as less valid
for them than the dictates of their own professional training.
Furthermore, professional expertise as demonstrated by credentials
and performance did not necessarily mesh with the rationality
of the 'bureaucracy' as exemplified by the actions of managers
in the area of coordination. The use of the exchange perspective
and systems theory helped to explain the phenomenon of
10 coordination as a two-way process between organizational structure
and environment rather than a passive result of environmental
or organizational determinism. Most significantly, the study of
welfare organizations has revealed the intriguing nature of
their loose but productive structures and their impact on the
behaviour of organizational employees. It is an organizational
theory that takes account of such diversity in forms that can
instill a common frame of reference to sociologists interested
in the study of organizations.
The study consists of seven chapters. The first three
chapters are primarily theoretical. The third chapter is the
culmination of arguments developed in the preceding chapters and
deals with the classification, refinement, and systematization of
(vii) of variables to bring out the relationships between them within a
coherent framework. It was through the cross tabulation of
variables that the hypotheses were drawn out. Chapters five and
six describe and analyse the data from the three organizations and
use some statistical techniques in the testing out of the
hypotheses. The' -final chapter draws out the implications of
the study. As anticipated in chapter one, the study clearly
points out the strains and problems produced by the growing
expansion of social welfare and the demand for a comprehensive
approach to the treatment of clients. In the final chapter,
the relevance of the study to the wider areas of policy and practice
is explored to indicate the relevance of studies on organizational
dynamics to the overall improvement of social welfare. It is the
contention of this study that the main elements of the service
delivery system, namely, organizational structures, environments,
and staff, determine the effectiveness of any social policy in
operation. It is through a responsible intellectual enquiry that
we can help those who manage the weighty problems of a large
segment of our society devise strategies to make the services
a useful addition to the struggle for human welfare.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Public welfare, Public welfare
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1979 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1980. Bibliography: l. 377-397

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:40
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2016 06:08
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