This paper contains some methodological and substantial considerations about the effects of New Public Management and governance reforms on social work. In the first part the main features of the reformer paradigms are briefly exposed. The second part tries to identify some crucial elements of a non-mechanicistic approach to study public administration innovation. The third part shows some findings in international literature about the changes in social work. About Italy, the author reviews some datas from two national surveys at the turn of italian welfare reforms of ’2000s. The paper concludes that a study of the effects of the reforms on social work needs to take into account many "translation variables" of the reforms (path-dependent and actordependent). At theoretical level, it suggests to "contaminate" sociological neoinstitutionalism and Actor-Network Theory.
Keywords: New Public Management, governance, social work