The tyranny of outcomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This perspective piece highlights an everyday feature of the work of social workers, their managers and policy-makers. The use of outcomes as a measurement of achievement. The growth of the use of outcomes, their present-day ubiquity, the professed efficacy of their use and their connections with managerialism are then problematized. It is suggested that the deployment of outcomes can serve as a seeming assurance of efficiency. This is to the detriment of less technocratic, softer, more uncertain, yet more realistic and humanist, efforts to describe change and growth. No solutions – or outcomes – are offered. Rather this short perspective piece adopts the approach of ‘a problem well stated is a problem half-solved’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPractice: Social Work in Action (Practice)
Early online date11 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2020


  • outcomes
  • social work practice

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