Effective implementation of new technologies: Legitimising change strategies in schools' technologies

Year: 2000

Author: LYNCH, J

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Schools are commonly viewed as resistant to change. Research suggests that attempts to implement innovations in schools often fail due to the ineffective management of the innovation attempt (Fullan, 1991). This paper suggests a framework for the more effective management of change attempts in schools, drawing on research on innovation in education and on managing change in organisations.

As organisations, schools can be compared with large established companies. Large established companies or "big old firms" (Dougherty & Heller, 1994) are characterised by their institutionalised practices, a quality which can be seen as producing rigidity or inertia. Schools are similarly characterised by institutionalised beliefs and behaviours. Writing within the context of product innovation, Dougherty and Heller (1994) classified the requisite activities of effective product innovation into three categories: (1) making links between the market and technological possibilities in the design, (2) making links between the expertise of different functions within the firm and (3) making links between the new product and the firm's strategy and resources. Making these links is difficult in big old firms because the links are seen as illegitimate within the institutional practices that characterise their organisation.

This paper explores the degree to which Dougherty and Heller's framework can be applied to schools, and the implication of this application for managing innovation and change in schools.