Research Output
Evaluating effectiveness in social work: sharing dilemmas in practice
  Evaluating effectiveness is of primary concern to social work practice; resources will always be limited, and those using services deserve the best. But what is effectiveness, and how should it be measured? This paper explores the challenge of measuring effectiveness in social work by examining two small-scale evaluations of services (statutory and voluntary) in Scotland. Both evaluations used a mixed method approach and both were conducted in a climate of funding cuts. It will be argued that evaluating effectiveness sits uncomfortably between new public management (NPM)’s imperative for measurement and efficiency within a market economy and agencies’ own need to reflect on their practice and respond to the views of their service users. Such processes force agencies into a continual cycle of monitoring and review that may, paradoxically, impede organic change and development. It is suggested that an alternative, critical paradigm in evaluation offers a positive way forward.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    23 February 2018

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  • Publisher

    Informa UK Limited

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    362 Social welfare problems & services


Cree, V., Jain, S., & Hillen, D. P. (2018). Evaluating effectiveness in social work: sharing dilemmas in practice. European Journal of Social Work, 1-12.



Evaluation, new public management, social work, critical paradigm, research methods, realistic evaluation

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