HUMAN SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS
All organizations need raw material as input to produce their products. Human service organizations are distinguished by the fundamental fact that people are their “raw material.” … I want to highlight the fact that the core activities of the organization are structured to process, sustain, or change people who come under its jurisdiction. It is this transformational process to which people are subjected … [that] differentiates human service organizations from other bureaucracies. … Inherent in people work is the fact that it is also moral work.
DURING THE 1970s, the term human service organization began to appear in discussions of governmental service programs. At first, the term was applied primarily to consolidated state government administrative organizations that included some combination of social services, mental health, and health services (Demone and Harshberger 1974; Gans and Horton 1975; Austin 1978). However, by the 1980s this term was being applied to a broad spectrum of service production organizations, including voluntary nonprofit and governmental nonprofit as well as governmental bureaus in a number of different fields of service (Stein 1981; Hasenfeld 1983; Austin 1988).
The concept of human service organizations was based on similarities in organizational structures and organizational processes in social services, health and mental health services, education services, and criminal justice services, although the production technologies, technical skills, and service products were different. Moreover, it was argued, there were significant differences between this group of human service production organizations and other types of service production organizations (Austin 1983a; Hasenfeld 1983). More recently, it has become evident that the concept of human service organization also includes for-profit firms producing similar service products. Indeed, it is particularly in the