Models of Educational Innovation and Implications for Research

by Robert Klitgaard

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Why do schools pursue the pattern of innovation they do? The author discusses the problem of educational change in terms of four basic elements: objectives, the implementation process, the production possibilities, and the evaluation process. Two competing explanatory models are developed: the naive hypothesis focuses on local objectives and the low productivity of various educational innovations, and has restrictive implications for federal R&D policy. The organizational model notes that educational objectives are inherently vague and production possibilities imperfectly known and seldom implemented; it concentrates instead on the relative freedom of educational bureaucracies to make policy and on the self-serving incentive structures. Since research has not yet touched on many basic issues of the problem, there is not enough evidence to disprove either model, nor, more importantly, on how more detailed, policy relevant explanations should be developed. Further research is necessary into the process of innovation itself. This paper formulates an agenda for such research.

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