Casework job design and client outcomes in welfare-to-work offices

Hill, C. J.
January 2006
Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory;1/2/2006, Vol. 16 Issue 2, p263
Academic Journal
Differences in performance across different locations of a human service program may be driven by client, managerial, organizational, policy, or environmental characteristics. While many of these factors are outside the control of local managers, other factors may be open to influence by local discretion and may have independent effects on performance. One issue facing local managers is how to divide job tasks among frontline staff, but little evidence is available regarding whether job design is related to performance. In this article, I examine the relationships between different casework task configurations and welfare-to-work office performance. Controlling for a number of client and office characteristics, I find that clients' average earnings are higher over a two-year period in offices that primarily use unified case management and in offices with a specialist who develops job opportunities. I find no effects on earnings in offices that use other kinds of specialists and no effects of unified case management or specialists on welfare benefit receipt in the two-year period. Overall, the findings suggest that local managerial decisions regarding job design help explain the variation in performance across offices and suggest a possible lever through which performance can be improved.


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