Publication Date



Management’s place within social work has long been of concern. Social workers are being displaced as managers due to competition from other professions, poor regard for their skills as managers, declining student interest, and weak graduate training. This article examines the displacement, discussing its impact on organizational mission, values, and culture; social work’s future; graduates’ readiness to take on management tasks; and career and compensation advancement. These concerns motivated the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis to implement a requirement that master of social work students complete three credits of concentration-level management coursework. We explore this change and others in a case that provides directions forward for training social workers as managers.

Document Type

Working Paper


Social Innovation Partnerships

Original Citation

Rosenberg, B., & McBride, A. M. (2015). The management imperative: Displacement, dynamics, and directions forward for training social workers as managers (CSD Working Paper No. 15-41). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


Social Work and Management


social work education, Council on Social Work Education, curriculum, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, human service organization, management, master of social work, National Association of Social Workers