A lot of educational innovations are reported to be prevented/plagued with the “not invented here” syndrome that prevents adoption. One perspective on this is that this is blame allocation by the producer of the innovator. i.e. it’s not my fault, but the fault of those recalcitrant adopters, they are rejecting my idea because of sheer bloody-mindedness.

Going through the book Knowledge Management in the Learning Society reveals (around pp 77) another potential explanation. An explanation that highlights all sorts of interesting lines of investigation.

A study in industry of 122 transfers of 38 practices in 60 companies by Szulanski (1996) is quoted as finding that “stickiness of new knowledge” is not prevented by conventional attributed causes including lack of motivation and resistance (“not invented here” syndrome).

Instead it finds that the three top preventative factors were

  1. Lack of pre-existing knowledge in the recipient suitable for assimilation of the new knowledge
  2. Ambiguity about what causes the new good practice to “work”.
  3. Difficulty of communication between the originator of the good practice and the recipient

This section finishes with a quote

As Szulanski suggests, unsuccessful transfer may occur “less because
organisations do not want to learn but rather because they do not know how
too”?. Were these findings to apply to educational organisations, there are profound
lessons for school improvers and reformers.

My lessons

  • That the REACT process may be a good way of enabling this.
  • I wonder if the radical change that some applications of ICT promise for higher education means that the organisational structures/services etc provided to support ICT are inappropriate – are missing some knowledge.

Misc other comments

Carmel McNaught, Supporting the Global e-Teacher, International Journal of Training and Development, 7(4), pp287-?

References a national study out of Australia, “was an investigation into the factors supporting the adoption of e-learning at Australian universities, used a multi-method approach, employing online surveys of institutional practice (28 out of 38 Australian Universities); a literature survey; and a case study of 5 universities”.

Three major themes emerged: policy, culture and support.

Culture incorporated factors such as collaboration within institutions, and personal motiviation of staff to use elearnign approaches, as well as particular aspects of funding, staff rewards and time, leadership, teaching and learning models and attitudes such as ‘not invented here’

References to chase

HIPPEL, E. von (1987), “Cooperation between rivals: Informal know-how trading”?, Research Policy, Vol. 16(6), pp. 291-302.

HIPPEL, E. von (1994), “Sticky information’ and the locus of problem-solving: Implications for innovation”?, Management Science, Vol. 40(4), pp. 429-439.

SZULANSKI, G. (1996), “Exploring internal stickiness: Impediments to the transfer of best practice within the firm”?, Strategic Management Review, Vol. 17(1), pp. 27-43.