Developing communities of practice: a strategy for effective leadership, management and supervision in social work

This source preferred by Lynne Rutter, Sarah Williams and Jonathan Parker

Authors: Gray, I., Parker, J., Rutter, L. and Williams, S.

Journal: Social Work and Social Sciences Review

Volume: 14

Pages: 20-36

ISSN: 0953-5225

DOI: 10.1921/174661010X537199

Social work in the UK has undergone a period of momentous change in the last decade with the introduction of a ‘modernising agenda that has increased managerial approaches to the organisation, development and delivery of services. These approaches are embedded and social workers and social work managers must find ways of working within them to synthesise appropriate responses that promote the values and cultural heritage of social work within the new context. This paper considers the possibilities offered by communities of practice to develop learning organisations in which a managed and participatory approach to social work and social care can be generated. A super-ordinate model of contending learning cultures is developed and used to create a blue print for practice that draws on a range of management and professional theories and perspectives.

Successful involvement of people who use services is identified as a key feature of a more advanced approach to leading a community of practice and the effectiveness of supervision is seen as dependent on the development of a community. The approach offers a strategy for first line and middle managers to develop team effectiveness and improve services that is robust and not dependent on organisational initiatives and cultures.

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