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The clash between standardisation and engagement

Anne Gerdes (University of Southern Denmark, Kolding, Denmark)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 4 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to analyse how standardisation influences home care work practice.


The paper presents a qualitative interview‐based case study from the elderly care sector in a Danish council. The interviews reveal care workers and administrative staffs' interpretation of how the implementation of IT and standards affects their work situation. Findings from the case study are supported by a large‐scale quantitative study regarding organisational transformations in the elderly care sector.


The paper discusses how standardisation, in the form of implementation of IT‐systems and categorization tools, influences the potential for development of competencies. The findings show that an engaged practice is difficult to maintain when working under circumstances characterized by lack of time and a requirement for standardisation and documentation.


The study provides insight into the divergence between standards and the importance of relying on experience‐based knowledge and value rational skills in relation to care work. The paper stresses the point that standards are necessary to coordinate workflow activities and support decision making. Nevertheless, it is shown that when reification dominates, the degree of standardisation will lend itself to an instrumental practice not supportive of growing competencies within the field of care giving.



Gerdes, A. (2008), "The clash between standardisation and engagement", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 46-59.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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