Management of innovation in school technology
This thesis documents and evaluates two associated topics of action research in the form of case studies in school technology. Its emphasis is on the role of strategic planning in the management of innovation within this increasingly important area of the English school curriculum. The research was carried out during a period in which British industrial innovation, and its effective management, was seen to be crucial to the nation's economic well being in the face of international competition. Growing acceptance of the importance of technology in general schooling, evidenced by its inclusion in the national curriculum embodied in the 1988 Education Reform Act, is set against the interlinked cultural, epistemological and professional barriers to its acceptance as high status activity within schools. It is argued that considerable energy expenditure is required before the intentions of the Reform Act become reality, and that innovation will need to be effectively managed. The study is therefore set against a review of the literature of innovation management in three spheres: curriculum development; the diffusion of Innovations; and industrial management. The first case study examines the implementation of an innovatory interpretation of the school subject Craft, Design and Technology (CDT) within the City of Manchester Education Authority. It tests the feasibility of developing a 'concept base' approach to CDT by teachers collaborating and being supported by the authority's inspector for CDT. It concludes that the innovation in a simple form is feasible, given that certain conditions and levels of resourcing can be met, but that in a more elaborate form, the innovation is severely problematic. The turbulence and rapid change being experienced within schools in the late nineteen eighties increases the severity of these problems. The second case study describes a project carried out in the North West of England in which various local education authorities and institutions of higher education collaborated to reduce perceived severe qualitative and quantitative shortages of CDT teachers. Five project aims were tested within the research and it is concluded that under certain conditions they are achievable, but that collaboration between institutions with different goals and customs is difficult, and that the quality of management information available to CDT staffing decision makers in the region W4S insufficiently accurate or sophisticated for effective innovation to proceed. In conclusion, certain generalisations are made relating to the effective management of innovation in school technology. These include: the inevitability of transactional distortion of objectives in the journey from intention-to outcome; the need to formulate and understand objectives and defend them from this drift, albeit in flexible ways; the need for incentives and central control in such collaborative endeavours; and finally the need for simple and effective communications within innovations.