Public sector managers of human services : their challenges and strategies : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Work at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
Middle managers of human services in the public sector have a unique role that
allows them to be part of the lives of clients and their families by implementing
the strategic vision of political leaders. The expectations of middle managers
can be complex and contradictory and therefore challenging. This research
identifies the challenges middle managers of human services in the public
sector encounter and the strategies that they have developed to deal with
these. The support that senior managers in public sector organisations can offer
to their middle managers in this process is also discussed.
The study is qualitative and placed in a post-modernist position and social
constructive perspective. Data is collected through the use of semi-structured
interviews and examined using an interpretative thematic approach.
The analysis identified a range of challenges for middle managers in the public
sector and strategies these managers use to deal with them. Interestingly a
number of identified challenges are also identified as a strategy depending on
the support middle managers receive from the senior managers in their
The findings identify that a strong strategic vision needs to be in place in public
sector organisations to develop clear roles and responsibilities for middle
managers with allocated resources. Middle managers need access to training,
supervision and networking to deal with additional challenges such as changes
in funding and information management.
Recommendations are made to public sector organisations to support the
development of effective strategies to deal with the challenges identified by their
middle managers. Recommendations are made to middle managers in the
public sector to prioritise and advocate for their own needs and requirements as
they do for their clients and their staff.
This research will support both senior and middle managers in public sector
organisations in finding strategies to support middle managers to fulfil their role