Maintaining Values: Institutional Work in the Social Services
This study investigates how front-line employees engage in institutional work to maintain their ‘client-focused’ value. By conducting a single-case study of a Social Service department within a Swedish middle-sized municipality, we find both individual and collective efforts to be successful in maintaining the value. The study also shows how value contestations on the micro-level have a negative impact on value maintenance, by making collective efforts more difficult to align. By finding how values can be agentic and give legitimacy to actions, our study also adds new insights to the debate on agency and institutional change, demonstrating how values can help less resourceful actors to overcome institutional constraints. Our use of the theoretical combination of institutional work and values work contributes to a holistic understanding of value maintenance, by allowing us to investigate both practices and processes involved in these efforts. Additionally, the study adds to the understanding of how efforts of less resourceful actors can contribute to institutional maintenance.
MSc in Management