Management Dilemmas in Catholic Human Service

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This work seeks to identify and analyze certain management and governance dilemmas displayed in Australia’s Catholic Human Service Organizations (CHSO). The research found that these problems are arising out of the complex interaction of the Church structures, external economic and political changes and a fundamental change in the personal base of these organizations. While quite uniform in the 1960s, Australian CHSOs have taken on multiple organizational forms in the past years due to rapid changes in the arenas in which they operate. Yet, in all these different forms, a single meaning system serves as a unifying principle, thereby illustrating that CHSOs cannot be categorized as being derived from a political, economic or legal institutional base. Rather, they are part of a group of organizations called Symbolic Organizations that are derived from a symbolic institutional base.


“Maureen Cleary’s book is thus an important addition to an increasingly vital area of study. By concentrating on Catholic institutions in Australia, she chronicles organisational trends in a hitherto relatively understudied area. Her comparative focus on all three types of Catholic Human Service Organizations (CHSOs) highlights both the similarities and the differences in the ways they are facing the challenges of bureaucratisation and professionalisation. Finally, her able application of sociological theories of organisation and cultural signification is a uniquely valuable addition to previous historical and theological studies.” – Dr. Patricia Wittberg, Professor of Sociology, Indiana University at Indianapolis

“Maureen Cleary has developed a theoretical framework for understanding the experience of these organizations and has used it to describe and explain the dramatic transformation of Catholic human service organizations in Australia. It is an account that will interest scholars of nonprofit organizations and of organizational change in every country, but also those in leadership positions within other denominations and religious organizations. It is an unusually insightful addition to the literature on nonprofit organizations.” – Prof. Mark Lyons, Faculty of Business, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

“Scholars and students of organisations will welcome Dr. Maureen Cleary's excellent analysis of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia and the management dilemmas created by a combination of internal and external turbulence. Drawing on Cleary's experiences as both an insider and an outsider in the systems she studies, her work offers an analysis of large multi-layered, loosely coupled organisations' experience adapting to environmental and internal change.” – Dr. Lisa R. Berlinger, Former Director, Program on Non-Profit Organizations, Yale University

Table of Contents

Commendatory Preface by Patricia Wittberg
Chapter 1 The Structuring of Church and Its Human Services
Chapter 2 Constructing a Theoretical Framework for Analyzing Religious Human Service Organizations
Chapter 3 Introducing the Study: Methodology
Chapter 4 The Meaning System and Its Dilemmas
Chapter 5 Other Organizational Dilemmas
Chapter 6 The Management of Meaning: The Fundamental Dilemma of CHSOs in Australia

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