Action Plans as Active Boundary Objects

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This Article presents how action plans are used as active boundary objects in the meeting between the client, the social worker and the inter-professional partners within the four core social service areas in Denmark: Children and Families, Handicap, Adults at risk, and Employment. Empirically, the article is based upon the analysis of 16 action plans and 21 interviews. The theory of boundary objects is applied to illustrate and explore how action plans can create integration across different social and professional domains, or worlds. The degree of integration is illustrated through the theory of inter-professional collaboration, which forms the basis of four ideal types of action plans as boundary objects: The joint plan, the professional one, the administrative one, and the symbolic plan. We find that action plans have a large but often unexploited potential as an active and effective boundary object and only a few functions as joint plans. In order to be an active boundary object, both user and inter-professional involvement are required in making the plans. This requires a highly structured and preferably systematic involvement in face-to-face dialogue meetings led by the social worker as well as frequent follow-up at a distance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)382-389
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021


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