Transformations over Time

  • A. Michael Huberman
  • Matthew B. Miles
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy book series (EDPP)


By way of providing an advance organizer for this section, we refer back to the conceptual flowchart (Figure 1, p. 11) that oriented our initial fieldwork. For now, our focus is on the fourth column, the “cycle of transformations.” The notion here, derived from psychological and sociological theory and highlighted in the recent Rand Corporation study of federally sponsored educational innovations (Berman & McLaughlin, 1974–1978), is that innovations enter an environment that they change and by which they are in turn altered. As we saw in the preceding chapter, users, administrators, and even program developers bend innovations to match local characteristics and constraints. The reshaping goes on throughout the implementation process and varies notably with the scale or the scope of the project, the degree of latitude given users to make changes, and the perceived results of initial use.


Organizational Change Program Execution Practice Change Central Office Reading Program 
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  1. 1.
    Details on the substance and methods are in the technical report (Huberman and Miles, 1983b, pp. 218–219).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See the technical report (pp. 218–219) for details.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    This was also true of the NDN projects, but to a lesser extent, and for different reasons. The “outsideness” of NDN projects could result in user unclarity and confusion, as we have already seen—even though the project was a well-defined package.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Remember that this rating indicates that a high rate of initial changes was maintained throughout the period we studied.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    This total includes additional key components identified by the researcher. If only the developer’s list is used, four of seven components are unacceptable or missing.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Louis et al. (1981), working from a roughly similar data base, had findings that concur with both the substance and the implications here. In their study, greater adaptation of the original projects was negatively related to outcome levels; reducing the program scope, more particularly, led to reduced effects. In contrast to the Rand study (Berman and McLaughlin, 1974–1978), which has largely shaped policy thinking in the years since its publication, Louis et al. and we would caution against seeing “adaptiveness” as necessarily a positive feature of the innovation process.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Scoring reversed for classroom/organizational fit.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Interested readers will find a detailed, site-level analysis, along with methodological indications of cross-site analytic procedures, in the technical report (pp. 279–281).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    O pages 134–150, we have examined changes in the innovation itself iota good deal of detail. Here, we emphasize primarily those innovation changes that had strong organizational relevance.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    For a comparative site-level display of these data, see the technical report (p. 289).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    We should note that deciding whether an adoption is “problem solving” or “opportunistic” is not the simplest of tasks. We settled for a “problem-solving” orientation when it appeared that the potential adopters really did have a problem in mind that was connected with the essence of the innovation (for example, Calston’s severe reading problems and the properties of the Matteson 4D reading program), and for an “opportunistic” one when other, often equally urgent, issues were at stake (for example, the Dun Hollow superintendent’s need to stay on the good side of the intermediate unit that had developed the innovation, or the Proville superintendent’s wish to promote a loyal supporter into the central-office administrative ranks using the vehicle of district and external funds).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Substantive and methodological details are in the technical report (pp. 301 ff.).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Plummet was a special case. Its actual fit with the high-school sending district was good. Its fit with the actual incoming student population turned out to be poor; the curriculum and the materials were simply inappropriate, a problem that set off a strong (and eventually successful) revision and reorganization effort.Google Scholar
  14. Control was also defined on page 102 as a type of assistance, but we have broken it out separately here under the heading of “pressure.”Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    This general finding, along with the subfindings leading to it, mirrors closely those of the Louis et al. (1981) study.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Latitude and pressure are not necessarily opposed; we had many cases where both were moderate to high (Banestown, Plummet, Perry-Parkdale, Astoria, Calston, and Proville) at the central office level, at the local school level, or both.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Michael Huberman
    • 1
  • Matthew B. Miles
    • 2
  1. 1.University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Center for Policy ResearchNew YorkUSA

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