THE LAST half of the twentieth century brought a steady expansion in all of the human service fields in which social workers, and other human service professionals, are involved—social services, education, health care, mental health care, addiction, and criminal justice. These human services have become increasingly important for the quality of life throughout American society. Human services involve the practical application of moral values that directly affect the well-being of individuals, households, and communities. Human services have increasingly become the object of critical public attention and political controversy. Some concerns about the quality and effectiveness of human service provision involve fundamental policy choices and the level of public and philanthropic expenditures. Other concerns involve the characteristics of specific service technologies. It has also become clear that many of the concerns about the effectiveness of human service programs involve questions about the quality of management leadership.
Although service technologies may be quite different, organizational and management processes across all types of human service organizations have a great deal in common. For example, there are many similarities in the management of a nonprofit adoption agency, a public school system, a community mental health center, a general hospital, and a juvenile court probation department. Moreover, many traditional distinctions among nonprofit, governmental, and for-profit human service organizations have become blurred as all three types of organizations have drawn on similar sources of funding. This book is directed to social workers, and other human service professionals, who are preparing for or who are in positions of management responsibility in social services,