COPELAND, CURTIS WAYNE; PHD

                         UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS, 1980

                         POLITICAL SCIENCE, PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION (0617)

                         The purpose of this research is to investigate the innovation process in municipal personnel offices by
                         answering three questions. What factors are related to the innovativeness of personnel offices? What
                         factors are involved in the diffusion of personnel innovations from one city to another? What
                         intraorganizational processes are involved in the decision to adopt personnel innovations? This research
                         focuses on ten innovations selected by a panel of both personnel academicians and practitioners. Data
                         collection involved a mail survey sent to all cities over 25,000 in the Chicago and Dallas federal regions
                         and in-depth interviews with personnel directors in twenty-two cities. Personnel innovativeness was
                         measured by using indicators of the speed of adoption, extent of implementation, and a combined
                         indicator for each of the ten innovations. Independent variables included characteristics of the
                         community, organizational environment, personnel offices, and the directors' perceptions of the
                         innovations themselves. Correlation and regression analysis reveal only modest associations with a few
                         of the independent variables employed, thereby indicating that no particular city or organization is most
                         conducive to personnel innovativeness. The data do indicate, however, that certain variables produce a
                         greater change in the innovativeness measures than others; the directors' perception of innovation
                         radicalness has a negative effect on innovation, while city size, director tenure, and the perception of a
                         governmental mandate are positively related to change. Innovation diffusion is investigated by examining
                         the rate and extent of adoption and the directors' assessments of information sources and by identifying
                         innovation leaders. Adoption graphs reveal that none of the cumulative adoption patterns approximate
                         the 'S'-shape evidenced in earlier studies and that virtually all the innovations began or experienced a
                         rapid increase in adoption around 1971-1972. Directors' ratings of informational sources indicate federal,
                         state, and regional agencies are not likely sources of information, while journals, meetings, other cities,
                         and individuals within the city are more acceptable. Directors believe that federal assistance is of little
                         value and that state and regional assistance is unavailable. Six cities are identified as innovation leaders,
                         although they have few common characteristics and are seldom mentioned as sources of information by
                         other cities. Most directors named cities within their own state and of the same size when looking for
                         information about personnel innovations. Interviews with directors concerning the adoption process
                         reveal the director and the city manager are often primary motivators of personnel innovation due to their
                         professional experience. The city council usually becomes involved only if the change requires
                         modification of existing ordinances or if added money is needed. Factors these officials believe are
                         important to adoption include director professionalism, proper staffing, and outside assistance early in
                         the change process and political and communication skills during adoption and implementation.
                         Economic resources and the priority the personnel function is accorded are important throughout the
                         process of innovation. The implications of this research are both practical and theoretical. Officials
                         interested in more complete innovation diffusion would do well to stress the nonradicalness of the
                         change and any applicable governmental mandates. Federal, state, and regional governments can
                         obviously improve both the availability and applicability of personnel information. In terms of theory, the
                         research offers support to both the rational and power-based models of decision making and change,
                         although the latter seems most appropriate in explaining radical change.


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