Published In

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

Document Type


Publication Date



Social Work education, Pedagogy


Examining the linkage between service provision and client outcomes is important in performance-based human service environments. Since most performance initiatives reward agencies for improving client outcomes rather than providing specific services, managers may have incentives to streamline workers’ efforts and reduce resources devoted to services considered nonessential. This article uses data from a performance-based child welfare initiative to examine the relationship between child permanency outcomes, the services provided by caseworkers, and the environment surrounding frontline service provision. Findings indicate that greater service efforts are required to reunify children with parents than to reach other outcomes, including adoption and placement with relatives. They also indicate that formal organizational responses to performance environments affect client outcomes partially through the services provided by frontline workers. These findings suggest that managers should attend to the interplay between the organizational environment, service technology, and client outcomes when designing performance-based systems in the human service sector.


Copyright (c) 2009 The Authors

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



Persistent Identifier

Included in

Social Work Commons