The effects of managerialism on domestic violence agency workers: A qualitative analysis

Deborah Mullin, Fordham University


Since the mid-1970s, neoliberal economic policies have led to profound changes in the provision of social services in the United States. Neoliberal policies have focused on decreasing the size and scope of the federal government through multiple overlapping strategies, including deregulation, devolution, privatization, commodification, and competition. Efforts to apply neoliberal policies to the not-for-profit sector have resulted in a market-driven, output-oriented approach in human service organizations. This approach, known as managerialism, is characterized by hierarchical organizational structures, a reliance on quantitative measurement tools, and contract-based financing. Building upon the data from Abramovitz and Zelnick’s Human Service Workforce Study, this qualitative dissertation analyzes the effects of managerialism on workers at domestic violence (DV) agencies in the greater New York City area using semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Research on the effects of managerialism on social service workers is limited, and there are no studies specifically with this population. DV agency workers are a unique subset of human service workers. The anti-DV movement—feminist and non-hierarchical in origin—gained traction just as neoliberal policies began to replace the Keynesian welfare state. Findings from this dissertation indicate that managerialism in domestic violence agencies has led to a decreased emphasis on clinical supervision; an increase in the amount of documentation and time spent on documentation; increased overtime hours; and an increase in reported stress for workers. Still, job satisfaction remains high. Findings from this research can be used to inform policies for DV agencies and their funders, and can be used to advocate for improvements for workers.

Subject Area

Social work

Recommended Citation

Mullin, Deborah, "The effects of managerialism on domestic violence agency workers: A qualitative analysis" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10153627.