AN APPLICATION OF SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY TO SOCIAL WORK ADMINISTRATION
KING, MICHAEL ALAN
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This study examined the applicability of social exchange theory to the practice of social work administration in hospitals.;A major problem for hospital social work directors was presented, that of influencing allocative, policy and coordinative decisions. This process is important because these decisions affect the ability of the social work department to meet its service objectives. Social exchange theory is viewed as a useful framework which the social work director can utilize in a systematic approach to dealing with the problems involved in influencing decisions.;This exploratory study utilized the critical incident technique. The study analyzed the relationship between the social work director's contributions to other subunit chiefs in the hospital and returns to the social work department in the form of allocation of resources and increased opportunities for collaboration. In addition to the author's analysis a panel of three social work directors at other medium-size voluntary hospitals performed independent analyses of the data.;The study has shown that there were many opportunities for the social work director to make contributions to other subunit chiefs or to the hospital as a whole. The findings suggest support for the usefulness of social exchange theory to hospital social work administration. Indeed, the theory provides an effective framework which a social work director can utilize in a systematic approach to this aspect of practice. The data show that a readiness to engage in exchange with other directors of service and hospital administrators does influence decisions in the hospital regarding allocation of resources and produces increased opportunities for social work collaboration in policy setting and program planning.
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