Professional relationships and decision making in social work: Lessons from a Scottish case study of secure accommodation decision making

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There has been a great deal written in recent years about the complexities of social work decision making and the need for a more ecological conceptualisation of the decision-making task in child welfare and protection. This article outlines some of the findings from a PhD study of secure accommodation decision making in Scotland which sought to understand the dynamics of local social work decision making in cases where children and young people pose a significant risk to themselves and/or others. Observations of decision-making meetings, interviews and focus groups were used to develop a multidimensional perspective on decision-making practices in one large urban local authority. Professional relationships were found to impact on information gathering, ‘thinking through’ decisions and managing emotions, ‘working’ the decision-making system to the benefit of your referral and having your assessment accepted by others. Trust emerged as an important quality in relationships between professionals who share decision-making responsibilities. Drawing on theories of trust, relationships and decision making, the article challenges the dominant rational choice model of social work decision making and develops new links between theory and practice by highlighting the importance of understanding the impact of professional relationships when seeking to improve social work decision making. The article also emphasises the need for further research to enhance our understanding of the multiplicity of ways that professional relationships can impact on decision-making practice and its outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-422
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Social Work
Volume17
Issue number3
Early online date13 Dec 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

Keywords

  • decision making
  • social work
  • secure accommodation
  • case study

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Professional relationships and decision making in social work: Lessons from a Scottish case study of secure accommodation decision making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this