Trust is both crucial and difficult to establish between social workers and their clients, not least because social workers have the power to suspend their clients' welfare benefits. Social workers must also enjoy the trust of their supervisors, who cannot directly oversee all of the confidential dealings a social worker has with a client. John Brehm of Duke University and Scott Gates of Michigan State will explore this trilateral relationship with the tools of game theory. The theory offers predictions about how tightly supervisors choose to monitor social workers, how likely clients are to play by the welfare rules, and how likely social workers are to extend or suspend their clients' benefits. Brehm and Gates will test these predictions with a mail survey of 100 social workers.
The findings were published as an RSF publication, Teaching, Tasks, and Trust: Functions of the Public Executive.