Human Service Delivery System   

People as raw material

Human Services vs. Products

Characteristics of open systems

 Basic elements of organizational systems (Harrison)

Source: Harrison, M. I. (1987).  Diagnosing Organizations: Methods, Models,
and Processes. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., Page 24.

Inputs and outputs

Inputs: Political and economic resources for service production

Output: Results from application of transformation technology   


Transformation of inputs to outputs


General environment

Institutions and conditions that permeate all systems


Task environment

External organizations and conditions that directly impact the core functions of the system

Stakeholders as part of the task environment

Environmental Dimensions

Strategies for Managing the Environment


Technical vs. institutional environment

Technical environment: resources and technological requirements to accomplish goals and produce outputs

Institutional environment: Normative and symbolic elements (laws, rules, customs, beliefs) that provide support, legitimacy, and meaning to organizations that demonstrate compliance and develop appropriate structures and processes.

Systems have purpose

Behaviors and processes

Patterns of interaction




Often behaviors and processes are a reflection of culture



Organizational Sub-systems

Production sub-system: convert resources into services

Boundary sub-system: interact with environment to acquire resources

Adaptive sub-system: information gathering and feedback

Management sub-system: oversees and coordinates activities of other sub-systems

Conceptualizing inter-organizational systems (Austin)

Four levels:

Source:  Austin, D. M. (1988). "Understanding the service delivery system." In Keys, P. R. &
Ginsberg, L. H. (Eds.). New Management in Human Services. Silver Springs, MD: NASW, page 29.

Conceptual components of service delivery networks (Austin)

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