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Organizational Social Context Measure


The Organizational Social Context (OSC) Measure is an extensively researched, nationally-normed and psychometrically proven 105-item scale that measures the cultures and climates of child welfare and mental health organizations. It can be administered online or using paper scan forms. The OSC Measure is completed by front-line staff (rather than managers or leaders) to obtain the most representative view of organizations’ cultures and climates. It takes 20 minutes to complete. Reliability coefficients for OSC dimensions range from .78 to .94.

Researchers use the OSC Measure in clinical trials, implementation studies and other research in a wide variety of settings and across a range of populations. The measure is used to assess and track over time, the cultures and climates of the organizations in which they are conducting their studies. The OSC Measure is particularly powerful in child welfare and mental health studies because it has been nationally normed for these settings. It has also been used effectively in a growing list of other settings, including substance abuse and 12-step programs, homeless shelters, child and adult autism services, nursing homes, hospitals and hospital emergency rooms, and crisis stabilization units.

Controlling for organizational social context

Principal Investigators are increasingly recognizing the importance of controlling for organizational social context, particularly culture and climate, in their studies. The literature is clear: organizational culture and climate affect staff members and impact clients’ outcomes, and therefore alter the findings of research projects (Denison & Mishra, 1995; Glisson, 2007; Glisson & Hemmelgarn, 1998; Hoy, 1990; Joyce & Slocum, 1984; Petty et al., 1995; Schneider et al., 1994, Wilkins & Ouchi, 1983; Glisson et al. 2010; Glisson & Williams, 2015).

Predicting outcomes

Cultures and climates predict a number of outcomes for organizations’ staff and clients. Organizations with positive culture and climate profiles have lower staff turnover, better able to sustain new programs and technologies, and have more positive attitudes toward the use of evidence-based practices (EBP/EBTs). Clients served by these organizations tend to have better outcomes, such as improved well-being and greater reductions in problem behaviors, and also report more positive attitudes about the quality of the treatments they receive.

National norms

The OSC Measure has been nationally normed for use in two settings: child welfare and mental health (Glisson et al., 2012; Glisson et al. 2008). Percentiles are provided based on these norms. To our knowledge, it is the only culture and climate measure that has been normed for use in child welfare and mental health.

What is organizational social context?

Organizational social context encompasses the human dimension of an organization including employees’ expectations, how the organization “feels,” and how employees interact with each other and with their clients. Its two most salient elements are the organization’s culture and climate. A growing body of research suggests that culture and climate have a large impact on the delivery of human services, including affecting the implementation of evidence-based practices, staff retention/turnover, service quality and client outcomes.

What is organizational culture and climate?

Organizational culture is defined as the behavioral expectations that members of an organization are required to meet in their work environment (Verbeke et al., 1998). These expectations prescribe work behavior and socialize new employees in the priorities that are most important to the organization.

Psychological climate (as distinct from organizational climate) is defined as individual employees’ perceptions of the psychological impact of their work environment on their own functioning and well-being. For example, an individual may experience his or her work climate as highly stressful (James & James, 1989). When employees’ perceptions are similar they can be aggregated to describe organizational climate. For example, an organization’s work environment is characterized as stressful if the employees share the experience of high levels of stress (Jones & James, 1979; Joyce & Slocum, 1984).

We are eager to help

We have worked extensively with other investigators to successfully incorporate the OSC Measure in their research. With that experience and expertise, we are ready to:

  • Talk with you about your research project and help you determine if the OSC Measure is right for you.
  • Talk with you in greater depth about organizational culture and climate and help you understand more thoroughly the impact they may have on your study.
  • Work with you on your grant proposal and be part of your study as consultants.
  • Work with you as collaborators on a subcontract basis on studies focused on organizational culture and climate, or studies focused on implementation or organizational change.

To contact usclick here
To view the first page of the OSC Measure, click here
For more about the OSC Measure and OSC Profilesclick here

Selected Publications

Glisson, C., Williams, N. J., Green, P., Hemmelgarn, A., & Hoagwood, K. (2014). The organizational social context of mental health Medicaid waiver programs with family support services: Implications for research and practice. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research.41:32-42 doi: 10.1007/s10488-013-0517-1.

Olin, S.S., Williams, N., Pollock, M., Armusewicz, K., Kutash, K., Glisson, C., & Hoagwood, K.E. (2013). Quality indicators for family support services and their relationship to organizational social context. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 1-12. doi: 10.1007/s10488-013-0499-z

Glisson, C., & Green, P., Williams, N.J. (2012). Assessing the Organizational Social Context (OSC) of Child Welfare Systems: Implications for Research and Practice. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(9), 621-632.

Glisson, C., & Green, P.D. (2011). Organizational Climate, Services and Outcomes in Child Welfare Systems. Child Abuse & Neglect, 35, 582-591.

Glisson, C. (2010). Organizational Climate and Service Outcomes in Child Welfare Agencies. In M.B. Webb, K. Dowd, B.J. Harden, J. Landsverk, and M.F. Testa (Eds.), Child welfare and child well-being: New perspectives from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (pp. 378-406). New York: Oxford University Press.

Glisson, C. (2009). Organizational Climate and Culture and Performance in the Human Services. In Rino Patti (Ed.) Handbook on Social Welfare Management, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Glisson, C., Landsverk, J., Schoenwald, S.K., Kelleher, K., Hoagwood, K.E., Mayberg, S., & Green, P. (2008). Assessing the Organizational Social Context (OSC) of Mental Health Services: Implications for Implementation Research and Practice. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research35(1), 98-113.

Glisson, C., Schoenwald, S.K., Kelleher, K., Landsverk, J., Hoagwood, K.E., Mayberg, S., & Green, P. (2008). Therapist Turnover and New Program Sustainability in Mental Health Clinics as a Function of Organizational Culture, Climate, and Service Structure. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research35(1), 124-133.

Glisson, C. (2007). Assessing and Changing Organizational Culture and Climate for Effective Services. Research on Social Work Practice17, 736-747.

Glisson, C., Dukes, D., & Green, P.D. (2006). The Effects of the ARC Organizational Intervention on Caseworker Turnover, Climate, and Culture in Children’s Service Systems. Child Abuse & Neglect, 30, 855-880.

Glisson, C. & Green, P. (2006). The Effects of Organizational Culture and Climate on the Access to Mental Health Care in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research33(4), 433-448.

Hemmelgarn, A. L., Glisson, C., & James, L.R. (2006). Organizational Culture and Climate: Implications for Services and Intervention Research. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice13(1), 73-89.

Glisson, C. (2002). The Organizational Context of Children’ Mental Health Services. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 5(4), 233-253.

Glisson, C., & James, L.R. (2002). The Cross-level Effects of Culture and Climate in Human Service Teams. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(6), 767-794.