Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of information practices of welfare workers and how they fit into daily work of welfare work within a small community sector organisation in Victoria, Australia.
Design/methodology/approach – The study was constructivist (interpretivist) in its underpinning philosophy, drawing on both personal constructivist and social constructionist theories. The research methods used, with a sample of 14 welfare workers and two clients, were organisational ethnography and grounded theory. Data collection techniques were interview and participant observation, along with limited document analysis. Data analytic techniques, drawn from grounded theory method, provided a thorough way of coding and analysing data, and also allowed for the development of theory.
Findings – Key findings centre on the role of information in welfare work. Welfare workers mostly used resources to hand, “making do” with resources they already had rather than seeking new ones. They also recombined or re-purposed existing resources to make new resources or to suit new circumstances. Their information practices were found to be fluid, consultative and collaborative. The findings of the research have led to a deep exploration of bricolage as a way to describe both the use of resources and the processes inherent in welfare worker information practices.
Originality/value – The fact that there is a paucity of research focused on information practices of welfare workers in Australia makes the research significant. The bricolage theoretical framework is an original contribution which has implications for exploring other groups of workers and for the design of information systems and technology.
- Information systems
- Information management
- Information theory
- Information practices
- Welfare workers