Quasi-government accountability : an evaluation of organizational change in a community mental health center in Georgia
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This study addresses the importance of evaluation for ensuring quasi-government accountability by assessing, at various levels of rigor as permitted by the available data sources, the processes and outcomes of change interventions in a community mental health center in Georgia ("The Center" hereinafter). The Center change is particularly suitable for addressing an issue of accountability in the quasi-government because it was initiated by a critical incident associated with insurance fraud and poor management of a residential facility in one of the work units. In order to test whether evaluation of the organizational changes at the Center can serve as a tool for quasi-government accountability, this study proposes an analytical framework with carefully selected outcome variables based on previous research on organizational change. Defining clear relationships between the interventions and hypothesized outcomes was very difficult because the group of interventions tends to produce more than one outcome simultaneously, and, more importantly, because no useful learning theory or philosophy guided the process of change. This study hypothesized that, at the conceptual level, the interventions at the Center would have a positive impact on employees’ attitudinal and behavioral changes as well as on organizational performance. The results generally support the hypothesized outcomes, as illustrated by an analytical framework proposed in this study, although some anomalies were found regarding the modest increase in employees’ withdrawal behaviors and performance improvements. In addition, employees’ loyalty has decreased significantly. The research findings imply two lessons. First, some unintended directions of change, such as decreased employee commitment and increased withdrawal behaviors, result from the lack of consistent value-driven change strategies. Second, despite some unexpected outcomes, the analytical framework for evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of the interventions at the Center has shown its usefulness in describing the outcomes of the interventions and in improving understanding of the relationships between outcome variables. Replications of the framework in different settings with different samples can add substantially to its usefulness by expanding its generalizability.