Managing and leading social workers when you are not one yourself : opportunities and challenges in non-government organisations : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Work at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
Social service management has regularly undergone transformation while adapting to
an ever-changing social and political climate. Managerialism and New Public
Management has redirected social service management expectations, resulting in the
prevalence of employing non-clinical managers. This study uncovered the transferable
skills held by managers with qualifications external to social work, and discussed what
additional skills are considered required in order to succeed in their role as manager.
A qualitative research design was utilised, underpinned by subjective ontology and an
interpretivist approach, in order to uncover and highlight the participant voice. Semi-
structured interviews gave room for topics to be proposed, and provided participants
with the ability to share their experiences.
The seven key themes which emerged from this study were management journey,
external influences, internal influences, social work knowledge and interest,
transferable skills, advice for future managers, and unanticipated findings. The
participant group were found to be managers with an eclectic range of experiences,
qualifications and knowledge crucial to the survival of social service organisations in
the present day. This study uncovered the participant’s steadfast values and
unwavering passion, and demonstrated their fierce commitment to empowering their
staff, clients and communities.