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Fragmented structures and vertical control systems: The Swedish experience of resource utilization in human services

Jan Persson (Department of Service Management, Lund University, Helsingborg, Sweden)
Ulrika Westrup (Department of Service Management, Lund University, Helsingborg, Sweden)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 10 July 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the problem of management systems in human services dealing with children and young people not supporting efficient resource utilization, as well as how to deal with this problem.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on six years (2002‐2007) of research into human service organizations with regard to social activities focusing on children and adolescents. The authors conducted this research in collaboration with representatives of social services, health services, schools and pre‐schools in three municipalities in southern Sweden (2002‐2005) and four municipalities and two county councils (2005‐2007) in different parts of Sweden. The researchers met these representatives at seminars held every month. The seminars primarily served the purpose of discussing problems and opportunities, as well as allowing experiences to be exchanged between the representatives.

Findings

The circumstances of dependency between social services, schools and pre‐schools are obviously given in their inter‐relationships. Efficient resource utilization thus presupposes resources being distributed on the basis of transverse dialogues held between different actors. The organisational structure and management control systems should therefore be designed so that they support meetings and dialogues between actors involved in different activities and on different levels in social services, schools and pre‐schools.

Originality/value

This paper shows that dialogue across boundaries will provide the prerequisites for the knowledge‐ and experience‐sharing that is necessary to bring about efficient resource utilization in human services directed towards children and young people. Some proposals regarding a more effective and ethically legitimate utilization of resources are also made.

Keywords

Citation

Persson, J. and Westrup, U. (2009), "Fragmented structures and vertical control systems: The Swedish experience of resource utilization in human services", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 400-409. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513550910972482

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited