Hybridity in social work: Enacting hybridity and discursive boundary work

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
90 + 5
Identities are subjective perceptions of who people are and what they desire to become, and identities impact how individuals respond to organizational changes and how committed individuals are to the organization. Identities also have functional meaning in organizational risk management and -control purposes, as well as how accounting is perceived and followed as a part of the work. This research is interested in how ideally contradicting managerial ‘costing’ interests are combined with social work professionalism, ‘caring’, in a social work manager’s hybrid role including responsibility for both ideals. Combination of these two responsibilities in one role creates the need to construct a hybrid identity, where this research emits light on the understudied and complex relationship between combining the two professions in social work. Illustrating how accounting is perceived and what factors influence being hybrid and how, this research goes beyond analysis of identities per se to finding more concrete evidence on what impacts ‘enacting hybridity’. This study is a single-case explorative study conducted in a Finnish public social work organization in two different service areas: social services for families, and people with disabilities, where main research evidence consists of nine remote and recorded interviews for social work managers. The research has found, first, corroborating evidence for earlier research in Finnish social work and medical field for ‘accounting receptivity’, accepting accounting as part of the hybrid role. However, the relationship between the two professions is complex as there found evidence of discursive boundary work between managerialist and professional interests. These discursive logics are for negotiating the work orientations, justification of behavior and for motivating purposes by impacting individuals through identity work. Creating of robust picture of the relationship between the professions is impossible due to individual differences in ‘accounting receptivity’. Third, this study presents four organization’s context variables that impact hybridity: managerial education, outsourced budgeting, tight budgets, and weak usability of budgeting tool X. The first one supports managerial capabilities, and three latter weaken the motivation of social work manager to enact hybridity because of limited possibilities for agency, to impact the budget these managers are held responsible for.
Thesis advisor
Vaivio, Juhani
hybrid, identity, identity work, accounting, social work, budgeting, discourses
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