Human motivation and professional practice: of knights, knaves and social workers

Martin, Graham P., Phelps, Kay and Katbamna, Savita (2004) Human motivation and professional practice: of knights, knaves and social workers. Social Policy & Administration, 38 (5). pp. 470-487.

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Efforts to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of public services by harnessing the self-interest of professionals in state agencies have been widely debated in the recent literature on welfare state reform. In the context of social services, one way in which British policy-makers have sought to effect such changes has been through the "new community care" of the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act. Key to this is the concept of care management, in which the identification of needs and the provision of services are separated, purportedly with a view to improving advocacy, choice and quality for service users. This paper uses data from a wide-ranging qualitative study of access to social care for older people to examine the success of the policy in these terms, with specific reference to its attempts to harness the rational self-interest of professionals. While care management removes one potential conflict of interests by separating commissioning and provision, the responsibility of social care professionals to comply with organizational priorities conflicts with their role of advocacy for their clients, a tension rendered all the more problematic by the perceived inadequacy of funding. Moreover, the bureaucracy of the care management process itself further negates the approach's supposedly client-centred ethos. The definitive version is available at

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Social Sciences > Institute for Science and Society
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Depositing User: Martin, Mr Graham
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2007 11:01
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 20:31

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