Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Innovation in the school context: An exploratory study
by Sweeney, Joseph E., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2016, 151; 10158585
Abstract (Summary)

Independent school leaders are seeking opportunities to improve their organizations’ impact on mission (Collins, 2005; Mair & Marti, 2006), respond to the new affordances and expectations driven by information and communications technologies (Christensen, Horn, & Johnson, 2008; Cuban, 2013), and improve their financial sustainability (Baumol & Bowen, 1966; Farkas, 2012; Ewert, 2013). The answer to similar challenges in other fields has been innovation (Christensen et al., 2008; Schumpeter, 1949). However, there is a gap in the research—an absence of a theory of practice for the work of identifying, enacting, and diffusing value-adding changes, or innovations, throughout independent K–12 schools. As a first step in developing such a theory of practice, this exploratory qualitative study focuses on independent school leaders identified by their peers as innovative and working at independent U.S. K–12 schools that have been defined as representative through the metrics of enrollment, tuition, endowment, and length of operations. Via a process of structured interviews, archival document review, member checks, and researcher writing, this study explores and seeks to understand these particular leaders’ perceptions, conceptualizations, and thinking about innovation, and their efforts in relation to the enactment of innovation in their particular school contexts. The major findings of this study are: (a) innovation is an under-theorized area of practice for leaders of independent schools; (b) the conceptualizations of innovation of Heads of independent schools are varied among individual leaders depending on several factors; (c) conceptualizations of innovation by Heads affect their approaches to innovation and leading innovation adoption; and (d) the field of independent schools lacks an approach to innovation that would help contain cost growth. The conclusion of this study is a call for a new theory of practice for independent school leaders regarding innovation, informed by theory from various fields and grounded in the experiences of leading practitioners.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ravitch, Sharon M.
Commitee: Cox, Joseph T., Kaminstein, Dana
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Educational technology
Keywords: Independent schools, Innovation, School, School heads
Publication Number: 10158585
ISBN: 9781369135930
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