Workforce development, performance funding, authority relations, professionalism, ethnography


Under recent policy reforms, the landscape of authority relations in welfare and workforce development organizations has radically changed from one that privileged internal professional autonomy to one that privileges external authorities. Performance, rather than input funding is the medium for this change. Longitudinal ethnographic research reveals that performance requirements in workforce development both contribute to and challenge organizational structure and program design, professional practices, and job seeker outcomes. As such, when the "voices" of job-seeking customers, directly and through their affiliated workforce organizations, professionals, and employers, are added to the "voices" of funders under performance funding, polyvocality may result in more consensual authority relations: in particular,l ess autonomous power for professionals, less program hegemonyforfunders, and greater power for job seekers over their futures. These findings may also pertain to organizations and professionals funded under other performance directives, such as managed care and welfare-to-work.

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