Factors influencing priorities in hospital social work departments: a director's perspective

Soc Work Health Care. 1997;26(1):25-40. doi: 10.1300/J010v26n01_02.


This study compares the perceived influence of several factors, each representing a popular perspective, on priority setting in hospital social work departments: (1) leader characteristics of the director; (2) organizational characteristics of the department and hospital; and (3) the preferences of constituency groups. The authors surveyed the views of directors to ascertain influences on their allocation of resources. We find that organizational factors and the preferences of constituents are the strongest determinants of departmental priorities, with leader attributes playing a less influential role. An interesting discovery is that each factor's influence varies depending on the nature of the priority area. We conclude that all three explanations for how performance priorities are shaped-a political model, a leader influence model and an institutional model-find support. The authors interpret and assess the significance of these findings to the practice of social work administration in hospitals.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Health Priorities
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Organizational Culture
  • Social Work Department, Hospital / organization & administration*