The University of Chicago

School of Social Service Administration Magazine

Human Service Organizations and the Question of Impact A new book examines human service agencies’ strategies for improving service delivery and challenges associated with organizational-level demands.

Human Service Organizations and the Question of Impact book coverHow do human service agencies increase their effectiveness when the need for service provision is great and resources for these organizations are scarce? Human Service Organizations and the Question of Impact provides empirically-based insights on the matter.

With each of its seven chapters, leaders in the fields of social work, management, and public administration discuss innovative management strategies for meeting complex agendas and goals. At the same time, they describe how new demands impact the experiences of both clients and staff. Findings relay that collaborative, mission-oriented leadership and strategies may help improve service quality in some areas, but the challenges associated with performance demands often result in lowered morale, compromised missions, and inefficiencies.

The first chapter, “Human service agencies and the question of impact: Lessons for theory, policy, and practice,” was written by the volume’s editors, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) Associate Professor Jennifer E. Mosley and American Political Science Association Executive Director and Georgetown University Adjunct Professor Steven Rathgeb Smith. 

Jennifer Mosley“The demand for “impact” is rising faster than our knowledge about how best to achieve it,” says Jennifer Mosley. “The term is everywhere, but there is little consensus on what is meant by “impact” and many different strategies have been suggested for achieving it. At the same time, scholarship has tended to stay in two camps: the critics and the evangelists. Our goal with this volume is to shed empirical light on the subject, recognizing that the drive for impact may indeed have some undesirable effects—especially for workers—but that forward looking management will be critical to ensuring that human service organizations are making a positive difference in the lives of marginalized families and communities.”     

This book will be of interest to those researching human service agencies, as well as those with a broader concern for how organizations react to doing more with less. Human Service Organizations and the Question of Impact was originally published as a special issue of the Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership, Governance journal. This volume is now available through Routledge.