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Understanding Organizations/Agencies. Theories of how organizations work. What is an organization?. - A social group formally created to achieve specific goals. An organization has specific characteristics.

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Understanding organizations agencies l.jpg

Understanding Organizations/Agencies

Theories of how organizations work



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- A social group formally created to achieve specific goals.

  • An organization has specific characteristics.

  • Deliberate action was taken to form the organization to deal with something in the environment.

  • A written document describes the general purposes and activities of the organization.

  • A structure of governing the organization is created which outlines of authority and work conducted.

  • The group is legally sanctioned through articles of incorporation to perform certain tasks in the community.



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  • Most social workers will work within the confines of a formal organization.

  • This organization or agency will have a tremendous impact on how they deliver services to their client and who that client will be.

  • The formal organization is an extremely powerful tool that can bring about change or maintain the status quo.

  • Many micro social work practitioners (counselors, clinicians and therapists) will become managers and need to know the dynamics of agencies.


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Types of Organizations formal organization.

  • Public (government agencies established to serve people in need).

  • Nonprofit organizations (private organizations given special tax status that allows them to spend their funds for public purposes without being taxed on the money they receive).

  • For-profit organizations (private business that charge individuals or government agencies for their services).

  • Self-help groups or mutual aid societies. Founded by a group of people with similar problems to provide help and support to members of the group. Most self-help groups are either nonprofit organizations or what we call informal organizations.


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Organizations can be formal or informal formal organization.

  • Formal organizations have a definite structure and a decision-making process. It’s easy to tell who is and who is not a member of a formal organization.

  • An informal organization can just be a group of people with similar interest or needs who come together to solve a problem (a block club, neighbors who exchange child care, volunteers who maintain a food pantry, etc.). It is sometimes difficult to tell who is and who is not a member of the organization. There may not be a definite leader or a process for making decisions. Informal organizations are not nonprofit organizations but may apply to state and federal governments to become one.


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Several tools help us understand agencies. formal organization.

Social Systems Model

Mechanical model

Human Relations Model

Decision-making Model

Parson’s Paradigm


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Organizations function to serve people in need and to maintain their own resources.

  • Organizations must raise funds and obtain resources from a variety of sources (individual donors, government grants or contracts, foundations, and businesses, or charge fees for their services).

  • They can only provide services if they have money to do so.

  • Consequently, they can may limit the number of people they serve or ration services.


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Organizations must also interact with other systems (economic, social, political) and organizations in order to survive.

  • They need money.

  • They need clients.

  • They need to establish a positive reputation

  • They need good workers.

  • They need resources and methods to deliver services.

  • They need to be responsible to licensing and accreditation agencies.

  • They need to be responsive to the public.


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One way of Understanding Public and Nonprofit Organizations involves the Social Systems Model

  • Boundary

  • Suprasystem

  • Interface

  • Input

  • Output

  • Proposed Output

  • Conversion Operations

  • Feedback


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What is a boundary and how can you tell one in an organization?

Agency 2

Agency 1


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Boundary organization?

  • The boundary controls the internal and external exchanges with the environment.

  • A Boundary must be closed enough to keep the integrity of a system yet open enough to allow a flow back and forth between the system and the environment.

  • Boundaries are not physical.

  • The boundary of an organization or agency is its culture.


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What to look for in an agency boundary. organization?

  • Who are the workers? What is their education and skills? How do they dress?

  • Who are the clients? Are they rich or poor? What is their ethnic background?

  • What service population is stipulated in the mission statement?

  • What is the feel when you walk into the agency? Are you welcome? Are you confined?


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Suprasystem organization?

  • The social environment of the agency made up of individuals, groups, other agencies and communities.


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What should you look for to determine an agency’s suprasystem?

  • Where does the agency get its money?

  • Where does your agency get its clients?

  • What other agencies or businesses does the agency contract with?

  • What communities and government agencies have connections to the agency including grants and contracts?

  • Where is the agency located?


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Interface suprasystem?

  • The boundary shared with another organization or agency that is a part of the suprasystem of the agency.

  • The interface is the relationship between the agency and other organizations in the suprasystem.

  • This relationship is jointly maintain by both agencies.


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What should you look for in determining an agencies interface?

  • What are the organizations connected to the agency?

  • What is the nature of their relationship? Is formal and contractual? Is it informal with no contract?

  • Who funds the agency?


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Input interface?

  • All the incoming individuals and resources needed to provide services and run the agency.


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How can you determine the input in an agency? interface?

  • Who are the clients in the agency?

  • Who are the workers in the agency?



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Proposed Output agency?

  • The purpose or goals of the agency.

  • Simply put, what the agency says it is going to do.


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Where can you find proposed output in the agency? agency?

  • What is the mission statement of the agency?

  • What are its goals and objectives?

  • What does it say it’s going to do in its various grants and public pronouncements?

MissionStatement


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Output agency?

  • The input after it goes through conversion operations.


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Where is the output of the agency? agency?

  • What happens to the client when he/she has finished treatment, case management, counseling, education, etc.?

  • What happens to the human services worker after working in the agency?



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Conversion Operations the agency?

  • The process where the agency turns its inputs into outputs.


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Where can you find conversion operations in the agency? the agency?

  • What practice modalities are used in the agency?

    • case management

    • psychotherapy

    • counseling

    • teaching

    • medical treatment


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Feedback the agency?

  • Determining if the agency is doing what it said that it was going to do.


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Where can you find it in the agency? the agency?

  • Does the agency do annual program evaluations?

  • Does the agency do needs assessments in the community?

  • What kind of information system does the agency utilize to determine completion of objectives?


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Mechanical Model the agency?

  • The authority structure is hierarchical in nature.

  • There is a definite chain of command from the top to the bottom.



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Where would clients be in this structure? nonprofit structure):

What effect do you think this has on clients?


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  • Workers are selected based upon their qualifications. nonprofit structure):

  • A given task is divided into parts and assigned to positions. What is this called?

  • Roles within the job or position are standardized. What does this mean?

  • Each position has a fixed salary and salary increase is based upon steps. How does that differ with other models?

  • Promotion is based on senority. What is that mean?

  • Conduct within the agency is strictly regulated.



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Advantages nonprofit structure):

  • Works well with agencies involved in a specific task.

  • Allows quick decisions. Why?

  • Workers know their place in the agency without question.

  • There is little ambiguity in communication. What does that mean?



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  • Does not allow the flexibility to respond to a turbulent outside environment. What does that mean?

  • Rigidity makes it difficult to deal with complex tasks. What does that mean?

  • The nonpersonal nature of interaction increases low morale.

  • Feeling powerless in policy changes increases low morale. Why?


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Human Relations Model outside environment. What does that mean?

  • Is founded on the principal that the behavior and interaction of people within an agency directly impacts the quality and quantity of work produced. What does that mean?

  • Workers directly participate in organizational decisions and policy development. Why is that important?

  • Leadership is democratic.

  • Communication is free and open.

  • Workers needs are a concern of the agency as well as client’s needs.


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Advantages outside environment. What does that mean?

  • Workers have a higher morale.

  • Workers have an increased loyalty to the agency and agency goals. Why?

  • The positive ambiance of the agency is translated to the client.

  • Creativity and problem solving are increased in the work performed by the professionals in the agency.


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Disadvantages outside environment. What does that mean?

  • Some research indicates that although the human relations model increases worker satisfaction, it does little to increase agency effectiveness, innovation or client treatment.

  • The agency puts more energy into satisfying staff needs than satisfying client needs.


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  • The human relations model fosters increased political behavior in terms of decision-making. Why?

  • The human relations model slows down the decision-making process thereby hindering cost effective and speedy service delivery.

  • The model tends to see all organizational problems as caused by lack of communication overlooking other factors including ineffective work, lack of resources and political/environmental barriers.


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No agency is purely mechanical or purely human relations. behavior in terms of decision-making. Why?

  • Most agencies are a blend of the two models.

Pure Human Relations

Pure Mechanical



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Parson’s Paradigm you a lot about the agency.

Adaptation

Fulfilling

Environmental

Goal

External

Maintaining

Uniqueness

Maintaining

Workers

Internal


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What happens if one box gets bigger? you a lot about the agency.

Adaptation

Fulfilling

External

Maintaining

Workers

Maintaining

Uniqueness

Internal


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Adaptation you a lot about the agency.

Fulfilling

Environmental

Goal

External

Maintaining

Uniqueness

Internal

Maintaining

Workers


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What should be the goal? you a lot about the agency.

Adaptation

Fulfilling

Environmental

Goal

External

Maintaining

Uniqueness

Maintaining

Workers

Internal


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Which box would be bigger in the Human Relations Model? you a lot about the agency.

Adaptation

Fulfilling

Environmental

Goal

External

Maintaining

Uniqueness

Maintaining

Workers

Internal


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Parson’s Paradigm you a lot about the agency.

Adaptation

Fulfilling

External

Maintaining

Workers

Maintaining

Uniqueness

Internal


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Which box is bigger in a bureaucracy? you a lot about the agency.

Adaptation

Fulfilling

Environmental

Goal

External

Maintaining

Uniqueness

Maintaining

Workers

Internal


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Parson’s Paradigm you a lot about the agency.

Adaptation

Fulfilling

Environmental

Goal

External

Maintaining

Uniqueness

Internal

Maintaining

Workers


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Simon’s Decision-Making Model you a lot about the agency.

  • To understand any agency, you need to know who is in control. Who has the power?

  • The values of the people in control will filter down into the policy and the procedures of the worker and ultimately come to rest with the client or consumer.

  • What are the values of the people who control the agency?


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Two Tasks for Understanding an Agency’s Structure: you a lot about the agency.

  • Determine who is in control of the agency.

  • Determine what are their values.


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Empowerment Theory also helps us understand organizations you a lot about the agency.

  • What is the organization’s decision-making structure?

  • How does the organization involve organization staff in decision-making?

  • How does the organization involve clients in decision-making?

  • Do staff members work collaboratively with clients to assess their problems and develop intervention plans?


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What is empowerment? you a lot about the agency.

Why do you think it’s important?