BEASLEY, JERRY LYNN; PHD

                         STANFORD UNIVERSITY, 1981

                         EDUCATION, HIGHER (0745)

                         This study concerns the nature of change in organizations. Two principal questions were addressed:
                         What contributes to the apparent diffusion of innovations among the American states? Where do leaders
                         get their ideas for change? Recent innovation studies have suffered from a common set of maladies:
                         limited scope; focus on the labels of innovations with little concern for associated behaviors and
                         elements; preoccupation with the characteristics of adopting organizations; inattention to changes in
                         innovations over time; and insouciance to the impact of innovations after adoption. In order to surmount
                         some of the difficulties stemming from one-method designs, several research methods were employed
                         in the present study to collect separate sets of data relating to diffusion issues. The first phase of the
                         research was an attempt to identify, by correlational analysis, significant variables in the diffusion of
                         innovations. For this portion of the study, existing data were supplemented by data gathered by a
                         questionnaire that was distributed to the chief executive officer of each state governing and coordinating
                         board for higher education. The second phase of the study was a case analysis of budgetary and
                         management innovations of the West Virginia Board of Regents for higher education over a five-year
                         period, 1970-74, and the behavior of key actors before they came to West Virginia. Documentary
                         evidence, written and oral, was the principal source of data for this phase, supplemented by generally
                         unstructured interviews. Finally, in 1974, a random sample of faculty at four state-supported institutions
                         (Marshall University, Parkersburg Community College, West Virginia State College, and West Virginia
                         University) was asked to respond to a questionnaire that had been used in 1970 by the Stanford Project
                         on Academic Governance to survey a national sample of faculty. The principal findings include the
                         following: (1) Poor states have adopted certain innovations as early as or earlier than wealthy states. (2)
                         Pairs of innovations, which carry similar labels but are extant during overlapping or different time periods,
                         diffuse differently. (3) States respond similarly to certain innovations initiated at the federal level. (4)
                         Innovations within specific policy domains--education, welfare, civil rights--often diffuse differently. (5)
                         Larger, wealthier states are often 'guinea pigs' for innovations that are later adopted by the federal
                         government. (6) Later adopters may adopt only some of the elements associated with a particular
                         innovation label. We can also make several statements about the innovative behavior of governing and
                         coordinating boards and their leaders: (1) Statewide boards for higher education in poor states can be
                         more 'innovative' than statewide boards in wealthy states. The statutory authority of the board seems the
                         best explicator of differences, although coordinating board CEO's do differ from governing board CEO's.
                         (2) Statutorily weak but wealthy statewide boards completed master plans before strong but poor boards.
                         Instate, the weak boards are denigrated; out of state, they are venerated. (3) State-level executives who
                         are professionally active outside their states are not more innovative than their less active counterparts in
                         other states. (4) Although often unable to implement their own ideas, coordinating board executives and
                         their staffs appear to provide the research and development function for governing boards in other
                         states. (5) The creation of statewide boards and the adoption of budgetary innovations appear to have a
                         quite modest impact on appropriation levels and allocation patterns. (6) Imminent deadlines drive leaders
                         and counsultants to search personal memories of experience for favored solutions. (7) The numerous
                         and grand expectations of statewide boards at the time of their creation may partially account for their
                         instability and leadership turnover.


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