Journal Article

Balancing Risk and Innovation to Improve Social Work Practice

Louise Brown

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 4, pages 1211-1228
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Balancing Risk and Innovation to Improve Social Work Practice

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Risk is a central component of innovation and innovation is seen as essential to the improvement of public services. The UK government clearly believe that unless public sector services engage with the innovation agenda and find ways to incorporate innovation into the delivery of front line services, future performance will remain inefficient and ineffective. Whilst it recognises that balancing risks with responsibilities is a significant hurdle to be overcome, the positive bias found within the policy literature and tendency to view innovation as a good thing may belie the difficulties associated with implementation in a social work context. This paper draws upon research examining the implementation of four new models of practice covering different areas of social work in the UK and Australia, namely Family Conferencing, Direct Payments, NEWPIN and Intensive Family Based Services.1 Successful innovation requires organisations and individuals to engage in positive risk-taking, which, in many public service arenas, particularly a social work context, could present significant barriers. The paper explores the issues facing both individuals and organisations attempting to be innovative and examines what potential innovation has in this context to realise government ambition.

Keywords: Risk; innovation; social work practice

Journal Article.  6903 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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