Social work is a topic of challenging trends and developments, which are critical to the concept and the opportunities of professionalism in social work. The research aims to contribute to a critical understanding of the underpinnings and prospects of professionalism and expertise in social work in the face of current challenges. The transformation of the welfare state: The withdrawal of the state from responsibility for social problems and the social protection of its citizens, the introduction of workfare policies, social welfare and health care reform to achieve horizontal and vertical service integration, has major impacts on the working process in social services, on the professional role of social workers and especially on the client/professional relationship and multi-professionalism. The new governance and managerialisation of services and the introduction of contracts and other market instruments to the management of social service organisations and to the coordination between public purchasers and non-public providers has instilled economic parameters and cost/benefit-criteria into decision-making in social services.
Evidence-based knowledge and evidence-based practice are held to become a
new corner stone of professionalism in social work. Social service
organisations as well as individual social workers are increasingly
expected to follow certain practices and programs labelled to have been
empirically proved as being efficient and successful.
overarching objective of this research theme is to investigate the
emerging paradigm shift in social work professionalism. Is what
constitutes professionalism in social work the subject of change? What
is the future of professionalism in social work – what is its core? What
are the consequences for social work education?
The Changing Academic Profession (CAP) survey was based on a major international consortium of scholars, and the fact that it was state of the art was much based on the efforts of the country teams. Following the CAP survey, more than 600 peer review scholarly papers have been published, and members of the Finnish team were authors of 30 of them. There was also strong infrastructure and research consortium support for the survey, which has enabled the close connections between higher education research and institutions and to relevant publication channels. Previous results from the CAP survey and its successor project (EUROAC) reveal that a substantial gap exists between junior and senior academic staff. For this reason, the newly-devised APIKS survey has been divided into two parts: a General survey of Academic profession and a Survey of Formative Years of scholars.
From 2017, the University of Lapland has become a host organisation for work that extends on the Carnegie survey (about 19,000 respondents), the CAP survey (37,000) and EUROAC (7,000). The consortium has agreed that APIKS Survey data will be deposited in Finland, with an estimated 50,000 - 70000 respondents from countries around the world. European data are located in CSC IDA, and for non-European material, the location is EUDat. APIKS / CAP / EUROAC / Carnegie is the most extensive international time series on the changing scope and content of work in the academic profession.
The users of these data are scholars, authorities and decision makers
looking for evidence in the reference countries, as well as higher
education institutions and labour market organisations. The
questionnaire, sample description and the codebook are attachemnts of
All members of the ProSoc team have experience in studies concerning
professions, and are spread across the University of Lapland and
elsewhere. Assembling a research subject on the professions under the
heading “Research on change in the Arctic and the North’ will enable the
use of multi-disciplinary research funding to build capacity and a
strong research infrastructure.
Along with the international
surveys, the research group’s members have conducted numerous national
case studies related to studies of the profession. As an example, the
Humanly Effective Leadership research project (funded by The Finnish
Work Environment Fund) examined the barriers and opportunities
associated with the various professions in the public health care field.
The field of bioethics offers an interesting and not yet thoroughly researched perspective on the role of professions in health care and medical research. This interdisciplinary field addresses the ethical, moral and societal aspects of the life sciences, such as medicine, and it was originally established in the US at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s. Originally, the birth of bioethics marked a radical challenge to the medical profession, in its practices relate to medical ethics, as it criticised medical ethics as being authoritative and securing too much power for medical professionals over decisions regarding the ethical aspects of health care and medical research. Bioethicists argued at the time that such issues should rather be deliberated on in an open-ended and inclusive manner, aimed at empowering professional groups other than medical professionals, and should enable patients and citizens to participate more actively.
Institutionally, as bioethics has become an accepted part of health care and academia in the US, it has also played a key role in changing the professional landscape according to its aspirations, most notably shifting the power of ethical decision-making from exclusively medical professionals to a more inclusive group of healthcare deliberators. For instance, due to the influence of bioethics, a new professional practice named clinical ethics consultation has emerged (mostly in North America) with the aim of facilitating ethics deliberations and decision-making in the hospital environment.
In addition to the US, bioethics and its practices have rapidly
spread throughout the world. Many Western countries, such as Sweden,
Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK, have now established some version
of clinical bioethics in their major hospitals. However, in Finland,
bioethics has still not been very thoroughly established.
contrast to addressing healthcare ethics profession by profession, the
ethos of bioethics constructs the questions of healthcare ethics in a
way that particularly promotes interprofessional dialogue and
cooperation. This perspective opens an interesting point of departure
for the researcher, as it opens the questions of how healthcare
professions construct their ethics in different ways, and why such
differences exists. In this study, we ask in what ways physicians and
nurses construct healthcare ethics as a shared agenda, and in turn, in
what ways are professional constructions siloed and potentially even
clashing. To do this, the study analyses recent professional texts, such
as professional handbooks and transcripts from ethics committee
meetings. The study applies methodology from social science and
bioethics to sketch a rounded picture of the current situation and
especially of its institutional challenges and possibilities regarding
Globally, patients' satisfaction with their healthcare treatment and the behaviour of nursing staff has been studied extensively. The concepts and form of the complaint have varied from country to country, but the purpose and subject of the complaints have often been similar. There are differences in the appeal processes in different countries, for example, with regard to procedural guidelines and the status of Patients' Ombudsmen. Research data is needed on handling complaints and related measures. Complaints form part of a knowledge base that the health profession can use as a starting point for self-reflection. Data collection methods include reports of complaints and feedback material, interviews and surveys.
The purpose of this theme is to find out what kind of maladministration is in the memories of patients and their relatives, and in the notifications of employees and clients of social welfare. The data from this study will explain how patients should be responded to from the point of view of specialised medical and social care staff. In addition, the purpose of the research theme is to find out how patient complaints and notifications are used in organisations (self-reflection) and what measures can be taken to process reminders and notifications to improve the quality of services. There are many reminders and complaints from patients and their relatives, but there is often a problem in how to manage the procedures and use the knowledge gained.
The patients can be seen as active actors and preference-generating
resources. The latter role has grown in the 21st century, for example by
means of co-production and service design tools. Clients, patients and
staff can be defined by the concepts of internal and external
stakeholders, where their role becomes visible. Disadvantaged personnel
can then be seen in the role of an internal stakeholder with a more
binding responsibility for addressing the problems of an external
stakeholder or finding solutions to the problems that are being
addressed. Solving problems as close as possible to their emergence
brings efficiency and benefits that can be verified through impacts.
The principles of a profession’s network behaviour rest on the rise of complex theories around work and organisation research. Work contexts within knowledge intensive professions are gradually perceived in the light of “wicked problems” referring to open and suddenly emerging problems. (Pietiläinen, 2010.) From this perspective, expertise is not examined within a single profession. Instead, the emphasis is placed on recognising interfaces between the various professions to respond the complex challenges as a flexible network.
In the research literature, two traditions exist concerning social network behaviour. From the Complex Adaptive System (CAS) perspective, the focus is on a network’s constructional flexibility (Uhl-Bien, Marion & McKelvey, 2007). In comparison, Complex Responsive Process (CRP) theory stresses dynamics and interaction relations between the network members (Stacey, 2001).
Our research is targeted at network behaviour within a social and
healthcare field. An essential dataset was gathered during the research
project funded by The Finnish Work Environment Fund in 2014-2016.
According to those data, the defects related to system penetration and
regeneration are considered to be distinctive within the social and
healthcare organisations (Pietiläinen & Salmi, 2017).
system inflexibility impairs client-oriented and humane service in the
situations in which the patient has to deal with multiple organisation
units. Concerning these situations, the professions that penetrate the
organisation system have been proved to be the most salient. Another
network challenge is associated with the profession’s different
historical background. Within the health care field, employees’ identity
is inexorably entwined with the professions basis, overpowering the
organisational development needs (Koskiniemi, Perttula & Syväjärvi,
2016). According to these evidence-based challenges, we have placed the
research aim on flexible network behaviour of professions. Consequently,
the key research questions revolve around how the professions are
capable of recognising the essential client demands from their point of
view and supporting the client agency during decision making. In the
dataset, we have availed in-depth research methodology (i.e. discursive
psychology). Prosoc-network will expand the profession examination with
statistical background analysis and open data.
The information technology is changing professions and their procedures in society. ICTs and media play a central role in the future Arctic business, policy and organizations—not to mention debates on issues ranging from the role of digital economy in the remote areas of the European High North. Therefore, it is important to understand how ICT and media shapes the Arctic, and to study the social implications of the digital technologies and their role in the northern change.
Our research involves conducting original multidisciplinary research, co-operating with the top researchers in scholarly publishing, and advancing the research-based understanding the impact of the ICT and media on society, especially in the Arctic settings.
Our research also affects policy and practice beyond academia. Given our international perspective and multidisciplinary approach, our research informs policy, various organizations and the Arctic communities as they tackle the increasingly complicated challenges as part of the global economy. We achieve further impact with the use of open data, our own teaching, active engagement with the industry and participation in the wider debates about the role of technology in public life. The research project “Design in Smart Mobility Business Services” financed by Business Finland Corporation investigates: a) adopting biometric and artificial technology to mobility services, b) creativity and art methods in start-ups and c) business impact of service design.
Research community has only just started to problematize the fundamental inter-relation of digital technology, media and organizing in the Arctic governance and northern change. Our research group brings together different strands of research in the fields of administration science research, applied information technology, media science and law.