Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

The Collaboration Management and Employee Views of Work and Skills in Services for Children and Families in Finnish Municipalities: The Collaboration Management and Employee Views of Work and Skills

Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

The Collaboration Management and Employee Views of Work and Skills in Services for Children and Families in Finnish Municipalities: The Collaboration Management and Employee Views of Work and Skills

Article excerpt

Introduction

The strengthening of collaboration and the development of collaboration structures between stakeholders providing services for children and families has been a key issue in health, social, and education policy in many Western countries (Bachmann et al., 2009; Widmark et al., 2011; Wolfe et al., 2013). The fragmentation and differentiation of the service system together with insufficient collaboration can reduce access for children and families to services, as well as influencing some to drop out of the service system. These factors present challenges for service providers to collaborate in meeting the needs of children and families in an appropriate, timely, and customer-oriented way (Willumsen et al., 2012; Wolfe et al., 2013). Flexible collaboration between different service providers also enables a more effective allocation of resources, resulting in financial savings.

The State of the Art of Collaboration Management and Its Benefits

The literature related to the concept of collaboration is diverse (Ødegård & Strype, 2009; Willumsen, 2008; Willumsen et al., 2012). Chris Huxham and Siv Vangen (2005) use the term collaboration to refer to any situation in which people are working across organizational boundaries toward some positive end. Interprofessional collaboration can be perceived as internal collaboration between professionals from the same organization and external collaboration as between professionals from different organizations or services (Ødegård & Strype, 2009). Elisabeth Willumsen (2008) has stated that interprofessional collaboration can be considered as taking place between professionals and between professionals and service users on an interpersonal level, as well as between organizations or services on an interorganizational level.

In this study, collaboration in services for children and families is viewed from the conceptual framework of integration in public health. With the increasing functional and structural differentiation of organizations involved in the pursuit of services for children and families, there is a growing need for interorganizational integration. Concerning collaboration, integration is accomplished through voluntary agreements and mutual adjustments between the organizations involved. This form of integration is based on a willingness to work together, and it may be implemented through intensive contacts and communications (Axelsson & Axelsson, 2006).

The management of interorganizational collaboration includes facilitation of contracts, conflict management, trust management, and facilitation of work. Managing collaboration seems to be difficult. Problems can stem from the different professional and organizational cultures and interests (Axelsson & Axelsson, 2006), incomplete understanding of roles and responsibilities, lack of trust (Atkinson et al., 2007; Widmark et al., 2011), insufficient knowledge of each other's activities or available services, and inadequate feedback (Widmark et al., 2011). Moreover, collaboration can be further complicated by conflicting and defensive interprofessional relationships, communication problems, unrealistic expectations, and lack of resources (Atkinson et al., 2007; Widmark et al., 2011). Structural factors are related to the existence of separate administrative boundaries, different laws and regulations, budgets and information systems, and the absence of structures supporting collaboration and agreed collaboration practices.

Collaboration between service providers in health care, social care, and education has been shown to be beneficial for service users, children and their families and professionals, as well as organizations (Atkinson et al., 2007; Oliver et al., 2010; Willumsen et al., 2012). The effects on professionals of managed collaboration have been generally studied through integrated and multiagency working and multidisciplinary teams. The most commonly identified benefits of integrated and multiagency working for professionals are improved services and joint problem-solving, the ability to take a holistic approach, and increased trust and communication (Atkinson et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.