Exploratory Research in Public Social Service Agencies: An Assessment of Dissemination and Utilization


The purpose of this study was to investigate how nine exploratory research studies were disseminated and utilized by social services agencies in four California counties. It is based on in-depth interviews with sixteen key social service agency staff members in four counties who were involved in the planning and implementation of the research projects. While reports were disseminated internally to agency management staff, the results revealed that fewer were shared with supervisory and line staff. All of the studies influenced agency thinking and, in some cases, specific agency decision-making processes. The key factors influencing the utilization of research included: (a) characteristics of the findings and recommendations, (b) specific project situations, (c) practitioner and researcher characteristics, and (d) communication. Implications for future research and practice are identified in relationship to improving the scope of work, strengthening the agency-researcher partnership, developing a research networking program, and increasing media strategies for bringing research to the marketplace.

Dal Santo, T.
Goldberg, S.
Choice, P.
Austin, M.J.
Publication date: 
July 1, 2015
Publication type: 
Journal Article