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Constructing Accountability: The Development and Delegation of Outcome Evaluation in American Social Work

Constructing Accountability: The Development and Delegation of Outcome Evaluation in American... A common explanation for the rise in outcome evaluation among American human service agencies is the concomitant spread of performance-based funding in the late twentieth century. Although not dismissing this resource-dependence explanation, I argue that a further-reaching historical perspective combined with a social constructivist lens adds critical context to this important development in the human services sector. Adopting this approach and focusing on social work’s history, I call attention to past efforts to delegate evaluative responsibility to service providers, framing these attempts as part of an ongoing negotiation of professional expertise and authority. Based on this review, I argue that modern agency-led outcome evaluation reprises historically recurring dilemmas and missteps. At the same time, this system of evaluation exhibits a historically novel and characteristically neoliberal attribution of outcomes to distinct organizations over replicable service technologies. The article concludes by drawing out practical implications for incentivizing and implementing outcome evaluation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Service Review University of Chicago Press

Constructing Accountability: The Development and Delegation of Outcome Evaluation in American Social Work

Social Service Review , Volume 93 (4): 52 – Dec 1, 2019

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Publisher
University of Chicago Press
Copyright
© 2019 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0037-7961
eISSN
1537-5404
DOI
10.1086/706468
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

A common explanation for the rise in outcome evaluation among American human service agencies is the concomitant spread of performance-based funding in the late twentieth century. Although not dismissing this resource-dependence explanation, I argue that a further-reaching historical perspective combined with a social constructivist lens adds critical context to this important development in the human services sector. Adopting this approach and focusing on social work’s history, I call attention to past efforts to delegate evaluative responsibility to service providers, framing these attempts as part of an ongoing negotiation of professional expertise and authority. Based on this review, I argue that modern agency-led outcome evaluation reprises historically recurring dilemmas and missteps. At the same time, this system of evaluation exhibits a historically novel and characteristically neoliberal attribution of outcomes to distinct organizations over replicable service technologies. The article concludes by drawing out practical implications for incentivizing and implementing outcome evaluation.

Journal

Social Service ReviewUniversity of Chicago Press

Published: Dec 1, 2019

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