Differential role patterns of child welfare managers

Sharyn Jill Zunz, Fordham University


This study examines the patterns of roles performed by managers in child welfare agencies. Using the eight managerial roles defined by Quinn's competing values framework, roles were analyzed in three ways: Role Emphasis based on the amount of time spent, Role Importance based on how important each role was perceived to be in enhancing managerial effectiveness, and Role Clusters based on effective or ineffective management patterns. Organizational and personal background variables which might affect all three types of role patterns were also investigated. The study population was selected from child welfare agencies in the Metropolitan New York area. A self-administered questionnaire was used to survey beginning, middle, and upper level managers from 65 public and private (voluntary) agencies within this field. Responses to the mailed questionnaire were received from 91 (51%) of the child welfare managers surveyed. Of the eight management roles, respondents spent the most time on the Director role, but cited the Mentor role as their major job responsibility and as most important to their effectiveness. Managers' hierarchical levels and agency auspices had the greatest influence on time spent on the largest number of roles. Role emphasis was also influenced by whether managers or their staffs had social work degrees; whether managers majored in administration; and by a manager's span of control. A cluster analysis yielded 45 effective and 46 ineffective managers based on Quinn's criteria. Effective managers had a high self-perception of their job effectiveness, were from private agencies, worked for mid-size agencies, and had a mid-size span of control. This study's findings stress the need for agencies to increase staff training in management skills, address incongruities between various aspects of managerial roles, and examine staffing patterns. Schools of social work are encouraged to expand opportunities for non-administration majors to take macro practice course and need to ensure that macro practice majors have adequate field placements. In addition, social work schools should cooperate with local agencies in providing post-degree management training opportunities. The findings also point out the need for action to address the under-representation of women in top management positions.

Subject Area

Social work|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Zunz, Sharyn Jill, "Differential role patterns of child welfare managers" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9501436.