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Developing effectiveness: frontline perspectives

McNeill, F. (2001) Developing effectiveness: frontline perspectives. Social Work Education, 20 (6). pp. 671-687. ISSN 0261-5479

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Abstract

The pursuit of 'effectiveness' is a predominant theme in contemporary probation and, increasingly, in all forms of social work. Even if it were accepted that empirical research studies have identified some principles of effective programmes, there would still be room for differing organisational and educational approaches to fostering effectiveness. This article explores the contributions and limitations of different forms of managerialism to this purpose, as well as the potential contribution that a renewed professionalism might offer. In addition, the author reports some of the findings of an in-depth qualitative research study which explored frontline workers' perspectives on the definition and delivery as well as the development of effective probation. Focussing mainly on findings concerning workers' views about factors which might have been expected to influence the development of their effectiveness, the author notes that workers had mixed views about the contributions of education, training and supervision, and stressed the significance of local peer influences. They also reported a disjunction between education and research on the one hand, and practice on the other. It is argued that, although this disjunction is consistent with managerialism in some senses, it will undermine efforts to develop effectiveness. Therefore in the concluding discussion, the author explores the roles that academics as researchers and educators might usefully play in fostering effectiveness.