CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

Chapter IV: Research Outputs And Potential Users

 

Using Knowledge and Technology to Improve the Quality of Life of People who have Disabilities: A Prosumer Approach by Laura A. Edwards

Chapter IV: Research Outputs and Potential Users

 

Knowledge utilization depends on having knowledge that is useful and applicable to potential users. Scientific knowledge results from research. Research outputs and technological advances often referred to in the literature as innovations are described in research reports, journal articles, and in presentations, poster sessions, or exhibits at conferences. Sometimes these are picked up by news letters, the mass media, or change agents; and sometimes these are demonstrated in selected settings. Research outputs may include theories, models, paradigms, postulates, generalizations, or findings pointing to cause and effect or covarying relationships among independent and dependent variables. Research results may also include validated tests, curricula, techniques, programs, or systems. Technological advances may include software products, devices, equipment or machinery. The innovation may or may not be marketable for profit.

 

Potential users may be policymakers, practitioners, other researchers, the general public, or specific groups of clients, students, patients, or significant others. They may be associated with varying groups, organizations, businesses, cultures, or society. They may be in the public or private sector. They may access information through varying personal and impersonal media or a combination of media.

 

This chapter explores the factors predicting use of research outputs by potential users. Many of the factors stem from studies couched in the framework of two communities: researchers versus users. Factors are components of a product, process, or program. In scientific jargon factors are described sometimes as variables, independent or dependent. Some factors are more important than others in predicting the extent to which knowledge will be used. When looking at users, this chapter distinguishes among the individual user, the organizational user, and the societal user. Change at the individual level involves differing personalities, values, beliefs, attitudes, stages of development, learning styles, tasks, roles, and relationships.

 

Change at the organizational level encompasses structures, systems, cultures, life cycle stages, leadership styles, and decisionmaking practices. Change at the societal level affects and is affected by social, political, and economic features of that society and the international community.

 

Before detailing factors related to research outputs and users, it is important to discuss sets of factors, the interrelatedness among them, and the primary and secondary attributes aspect to factors studies.

 

I. INTRODUCTION TO FACTORS

 

A. Sets of factors

 

Researchers have been studying factors related to the innovation, the user, the context, and the information channel in order to determine predictors of use. Glaser and others (1983:36-37) compared and charted four major 1970's studies on factors: Davis (8 factors), Glaser (19 factors), Zaltman (19 factors), and Havelock and Lingwood (10 factors). Common among three or more of these studies were the following user-oriented factors: ability of staff to carry out the change in terms of resources, planning, structuring, leadership, experience, costs, [and risktaking] and readiness of the staff and leaders to consider the idea of innovation and embark on a course of change. This readiness may be due to contextual circumstances that prevail at the time such as dissatisfaction with the status quo or environmental pressures to change, or seeing an innovation as a gateway to other innovations. Readiness may also come from perceiving relative advantage or benefits involved in innovating or a sense of obligation to deal with a particular problem.

 

Common factors related to the innovation or research itself were: qualities of the innovation, e.g., credibility, observability, divisibility, reversibility, complexity, communicability, trialabilty, availability of technical assistance, modifiability, scientific status, point of origin, terminality.

 

 Between the research output and the user were the factors of compatibility of the innovation with values or institutional/cultural norms and the linkages. Linkages may mean adequate interaction between the innovator and potential users. It may mean gatekeepers or approved channels of information dissemination. Or it may mean use of a change agent or consultant who can help facilitate acceptance and adoption of the research output including working through resistances. It could also mean the integration of the producer and consumer of knowledge in such a way that other forms of linkage may not be necessary, i.e., the prosumer approach. While the latter interpretation currently lies outside the knowledge utilization literature, the line of reasoning is becoming more popular.

 

Other researchers cited by Glaser and others (1983:36-37) looked at factors from a central theme perspective or from a deterrent perspective. Sieber used the central theme approach and identified factors centered on the user, compliance, change, research, process, economics, resource, organization, expansion, resistance, and person. Mirvis and Berg identified deterrent factors: incomplete theories, inaccurate diagnoses, inappropriate change technologies, intractable organization members, incapable change agents, and inflexible organizations.

 

B. Interrelatedness of factors

 

Over time the synthesizers of studies on factors such as Glaser, Rogers, and others have come to recognize that factors are interrelated and interdependent. Even characteristics identified as specific to the innovation are dependent upon the interpretations of the potential user within a given context. Stevens and others warn that an overemphasis on a particular set of factors deters integrated approaches and is too easily contradicted and refuted (in Cahill, et al, 1990:59).

 

C. Primary and secondary attributes

 

Besides interdependency among factors, there is another area of concern in studying factors. Studies of factors determining knowledge use vary in definitions of the same factor as well as in methodology and the context for studying use. Downs and Mohr tried to address the problems that such variety presents. They suggested, among other things, differentiating between primary and secondary attributes, with the former implying attributes inherent in a characteristic and the latter addressing characteristics differing across organizations (cited in Bingham et al, 1984:311). However, until others heed this suggestion, the bulk of the studies completed to date and highlighted in this and subsequent chapters have used the secondary characteristic approach.

 

Keeping those cautions in mind, let's explore in more depth factors related to research outputs.

 

II. RESEARCH OUTPUTS

 

The literature reports a wide range of innovation factors that appear to influence utilization. Most of that literature is from the seventies and early eighties. This author could find no significant changes in factors related to research outputs from studies conducted since the l983 state-of-the-art studies. Therefore, this section on factors related to research outputs highlights key innovation characteristics identified by Glaser in 1973 and 1983 (with others) and Rogers (1983) with related terms from other researchers juxtaposed to those terms.

 

Rogers in his meta-analysis of the diffusion of innovations reported on twelve studies from 1960 to 1978 in terms of innovation attributes and rates of adoption (1983:220-221). Attributes found to be significantly related to the rate of adoption included: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, observability, and trialability.

 

Those will be discussed first with related factors grouped with them. -- Relative advantage (costs, investment returns, efficiency, or yield)

-- Relative advantage

 (costs, investment returns, efficiency, or yield)

-- Compatibility

 (consistency with users, political acceptability)

-- Complexity

 (comprehensibility and ease of installation)

-- Observability

 (demonstrability)

-- Trialability

 (divisibility)

-- Other

 -- Credibility, scientific status, quality, or source

 -- Relevance, timing, practical or action-oriented

 -- Reversibility

Relative advantage:

 

(costs, investment returns, efficiency, or yield) Technology that leads to future profits and covers the costs of development have relative advantage or yield. Innovations that offer sufficient incentive to "offset the considerable effort that change may require" or to minimize concerns about undesirable side effects or risks also can be thought of as producing a satisfactory yield or relative advantage (Glaser, 1973 and Davis and Salasin, 1975 as cited in Glaser et al 1983:30-31).

 

Rogers (1983:382-3) says that early adopters, i.e., the risk takers, are likely to earn the windfall profits from the introduction of a new idea into a social system which subsequent adopters will not likely earn as prices drop.

 

Zaltman included costs, efficiency and return on investment in his lists of variables predictive of use. Costs included financial and social; efficiency included overall timesaving and avoidance of bottlenecks; return on investment implied tangible and intangible (Zaltman, 1973 in Glaser, 1983:32). Down & Mohrs suggest that research findings related to high-costs are "generalizable only to other high-cost innovations" (1976:702 quoted by Fellers in Rich, 1981:90).

 

From an efficiency perspective Trattner developed a formula for selecting and ranking research or development ideas which he named 'rule of the three Es'. "Efficiency is present when the effects produced are greater than the efforts to achieve them, or Efficiency=Effect divided by Effort" (1977 in Glaser et al, 1983:57).

 

Glaser and others (1983) reported more ready adoptions when potential users perceive a relative advantage, especially when espoused by well respected opinion leaders (Hovland, Janis, and Kelley, 1953; Rogers, 1962a; Coleman, Katz, and Menzel, 1966b cited in Glaser et al, 1983:56). They also cited studies related to industry and commerce pointing to the attraction of a low-risk profit incentive as potentially outweighing in the short run the use of relevant and validated innovations though they may yield over time benefits to many consumers and producers (Miles, 1964c; Glaser and Taylor, 1973 in Glaser et al, 1983:56).

 

Among the incentives cited among teachers for enhancing the use of innovation are those that help increase effectiveness or professional growth (Berman & McLaughlin cited in Crandell et al, 1986:39). Other teacher benefits include "satisfaction, recognition, professional gain, teacher-student interaction, student achievement, and changes in student behavior and attitudes" (Loucks et al, 1981 cited in Crandell et al, 1986:39).

 

Disincentives linked to innovation include experiences of loss of autonomy (Sieber cited in Crandell et al, 1986:39). Difficulty in assessing relative advantage may hinder adoption of some research findings (Rogers, 1968 in Glaser et al, 1983:57).

 

Compatibility:

 

(consistency w/users and political acceptability) Studies finding positive relationships between acceptance of innovations when they "seem compatible with users' previously established values, norms, procedures, and facilities" were conducted by Rogers (1962a), Miles (1964c), Niehoff (1966), Davis (1971), Zaltman and others (1973) and cited by Glaser et al (1983:58).

 

In a study of the mental health program administration, Weiss and Bucuvalas unexpectedly found challenges to the status quo and even hostile studies sometimes welcomed (1977, cited in Wright, 1984: 36-38). Hostile studies enabled respondents to take preemptive action and therefore were viewed as agency-supportive and politically acceptable. Caplan (et al, 1975:35) found "the political acceptability of research dominated all other use-related factors, including those such as relevance" (cited in Wright, 1984:37).

 

Deshpande & Zaltman (1982; 1984) found surprise and counterintuitiveness of results important in affecting use of marketing research among marketing managers and confirmatory research purpose and actionability among researchers.

 

Manning and Rapoport (1976) found compatibility reaching into the research formulation stages as well as in the utilization stage. Collaborative formulation of the research enhanced direct use in an applied research study (cited in Glaser et al, 1983:64).

 

Complexity:

 

(comprehensibility and ease of installation) Can potential users readily understand and install the innovation? How complex is the innovation? Does it require installation in many units or only one, statewide or nationwide? Can it be transplanted easily to different settings? How clear are the research results and how readable and usable is the report or presentation of the innovation? Those are some of the many questions related to the complexity and comprehensibility factor(s). Zaltman says that "complexity of concept or of implementation is a deterrent to the adoption of innovations" (1973 cited in Glaser et al, 1983:60). Pelz found data supporting the proposition that "technically simple innovations are installed with a more discrete succession of stages than are complex innovations"(1985:288). The opposite tendency was found with the complexity of installation "ranging from a 'homogeneous' innovation involving few groups to a 'heterogeneous' one involving many groups" (Pelz, 1985:288).

 

On the other hand, Crandall, Eiseman, and Louis (1986:25) cite several large educational studies by the Rand Corporation and others suggesting "the larger the scope and personal 'demandingness' of a change the greater the chance for success." The citing authors explain the apparent conflict with other findings by indicating that educational studies represent implementation after an adoption decision has been made rather than prior to the decision. "Apparent complexity," they say, "may initially deter a potential adopter who has to master the innovation alone" (Crandall, et al 1986:25). When reporting results Rothman (1980:153) and Seidel say, (1981:239) "clear, concise reporting enhances the chances of research being put to use" (cited in Wright 1984:32). Alken, Daillak, and White (1979) found that the form of the research report by itself did not explain the utilization decision (cited in Wright, 1984:32). Ballard and James see merit in focusing on manipulables such as reporting style rather than on the less manipulable factors related to organizational barriers (1983:414 cited in Wright, 1984:32).

 

Abelson (1970) found an inverse relationship between the 'technicality' of a prescriptively stated psychoeducational idea, as judged by the investigator, and its importance and application to teaching practice, as judged by teachers (cited in Glaser et al, 1983:60). Fessenden-Raden, Fitchen, and Heath (1987:99) caution risk information givers about (1) simplifying technical messages to the point of omission of essential facts, (2) use of regulatory terminology rather than receiver-oriented terminology, (3) and use of aggregated data that hasn't been interpreted for its application to the community being addressed.

 

Observability: (Demonstrability or visibility) and Trialability: (Divisibility) Studies addressing the importance of users being able to see a demonstration of an innovation or having the opportunity to try it out with minimal risk included those by Bright (1964), Rogers and Svenning (1969), and Glaser (1973) (cited in Glaser et al, 1983:61). "Situations in which the user need not 'play for keeps' provide more opportunity for innovation" (Miles, 1964c; Lippitt and Havelock, 1968; Zaltman and others, 1973 in Glaser et al, 1983:61). Being able to introduce a change on a step by step basis with time for assimilation was found important by Rogers (1962) and Fliegel and Kivlin (1966) (cited in Glaser et al, 1983:61).

 

Visibility of results of application is also seen as important under the nature of readiness of the item for use by others (compilation from other sources by Roessner, 1975 in Glaser, 1983:40-41).

 

Other: (Credibility, scientific status, quality, or source)

 

Credibility may derive from interpretations of scientific status, source, or quality. Credibility as interpreted by Glaser (1973) stems "from the soundness of evidence for the value of the innovation or from its espousal by highly respected persons or institutions" (cited in Glaser et al, 1983:30). Scientific status, a determining factor identified by Zaltman (1973, cited in Glaser et al, 1983:33), refers to the research study's reliability, validity, generality, and so on. Quality of research, found frequently in the current literature, is closely related to scientific status as a factor.

 

Quality of research has been explored with inconsistent results. When potential research users were directly asked whether the quality of research played a role in deciding to use research, quality was deemed important (Caplan et al, 1975:30; Weiss & Bucuvalas, 1977:222; Rothman, 1980:140 cited in Wright, 1984:33). The technical quality of research was one of five sets of variables deemed important in affecting use of market research by marketing managers and by researchers (Deshpande & Zaltman, 1982; Deshpande & Zaltman, 1984:32).

 

On the other hand, when studies "assigned quality scores...according to objectively determined characteristics of the research and then looked for a correlation between quality and use," they found no relationship between research quality and use (Van de Vall and Bolas, 1981:476; Dunn, 1980:525; and Alkin, Daillak, & White, 1979:241 cited in Wright, 1984:33; Huberman, 1987:606). Johnson factor analyzed measures of quality and found that "none of the three research quality measures [conflict, collaboration, and policy focused attributes] of this study proved to be important" (Johnson, 1985:180). He added, "It is possible that although research quality may be related to perceived research use as measured by Weiss and Bucuvalas, this factor is not related to actual use"(1985:180). Again the issue as Wright pointed out relates to the method of determining quality of research. It also relates to the definitions used or the circumstances of the potential user (Wright, 1984:34).

 

Another dimension of credibility or quality is linked to the point of origin of the study, internal or external to an organization, state, or country. While according to Van de Vall and Bolas the pro-external sources has the widest following, their own studies pointed to internal sources as the more advantageous (1981:462). The advantages of internal sources are greater understanding of the context in which the research will be used and greater communication (Van de Vall & Bolas, 1981:479). Other advantages include "faster service, better control over resources, and greater access to sources of information and decision-making" (Bursk & Sethi cited by Ibid, 1981:463). Van de Vall & Bolas also identified intermediate positions that suggest complementary roles of external and internal research.

 

Crandall, Eiseman, and Louis (1986) report education studies finding little evidence that the local innovation has any advantages in increasing usage over the nonlocal innovation. According to Crandell and others interaction can diminish potential negative effects of the source of origin.

 

Studies on the point of origin include, but are not limited to, those by Van de Vall and Bolas (1981), Zaltman (1973 in Glaser, 1983:33); Pelz and Munson (1982), Pelz (1985), and Johnson (1985).

 

Other:

 

(Relevance, Importance, Timing, Practical, or Action-oriented) Glaser defines relevance in terms of "coping with a persistent and sharply bothersome problem of concern to a large number of people or to influential people" (Glaser, 1973 in Glaser et al, 1983:30). Durability of an innovation depends upon the innovation meeting a recognized, well-defined need (Glaser, 1981:179).

 

From an instrumental use perspective, Rothman says to be relevant the innovation "must contain timely, practical, and action-oriented recommendations" (1980:132-133 cited in Wright, 1984:31). From a conceptual perspective, Weiss & Bucuvalas viewed relevance as a precondition to usefulness but not necessarily connected to timeliness, action-orientation, or practicality (1977:220-1 cited in Wright, 1984: 31).

 

Rich found time to be a factor related to whether policymakers in several federal agencies used research instrumentally or conceptually (1977:202-205 cited in Wright, 1984:19). Heavy instrumental use occurred within the first two months; conceptual use took place during months three to six. Larsen concluded from another study that information use takes time. Failure to recognize the time demand of utilization activities may lead to data collection before the outcome is possible (Larsen, 1985:157). Others have pointed to the impact of time on utilization (Ciarlo, cited in Davis and Salasin, 1975; Strommen and Aleshire, 1979; Tornatzky and Fergus, 1980; cited in Larsen, 1985:146-7). Van de Vall says the project's impact is dependent on "the researcher's ability to 'co-align' the stream of research information with the sequence of decisions in the policy-making process" (Van de Vall, 1975:23 in Glaser et al, 1983:64).

 

What about outmoded technology or routinized innovations, how relevant are these? Rosenberg points to the difficulties in determining outmodedness. "'Old' technology often continues to be improved after the introduction of the 'new,' thus postponing even further the time when the old technology is clearly outmoded" (1972 cited in Glaser, 1983:49). Yin says: "If followed over a long period, information that once was new eventually becomes routinized, losing its distinguishing characteristics as it melds into the organization's ongoing program" (1976 cited in Larsen, 1985:146). Havelock adds: "Alternatively, implementation of new information may be followed by discontinuance, discontinuance by readoption, and rejection by later adoption" (1969 cited in Larsen, 1985:146). Summary of research output factors: Little change has occurred in research findings related to factors.

 

The rehabilitation field is likely to have greater utilization from research that is perceived as compatible, less complex, observable, trialable, and having relative advantage. This fits the two-communities framework. Factors related to users follow. They begin with individuals as users, include organizations as users, and end with societies as users.

 

III. INDIVIDUALS AS USERS

 

Authors of Megatrends 2000, John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene, characterize the 1990's "as a new respect for the individual as the foundation of society and the basic unit of change" (1990:298). Individual responsibility, these authors believe, will become the first principle of the New Age movement. As the individual assumes responsibility, no longer will the individual hide behind collective structures such as organized religion, unions, the Communist party, big business, political parties, cities, or government. Technology (e.g., computers, cellular phones, fax machines, global television, video cassettes) is empowering individuals to change themselves and their communities.

 

When the focus was on the institution, individuals got what suited the institution; everyone got the same thing. No more. With the rise of the individual has come the primacy of the consumer. It has been said for many years: The customer is king. Now it is true (Naisbitt & Aburdene, 1990:307). This section looks more closely at individual factors and techniques contributing to individual change or to the individual's acceptance of organizational or social changes.

 

 A. The personal factor

 

Organizations do not consume information; people do--individual, idiosyncratic, caring, uncertain, searching people. Who is in a position makes all the difference in the world to information use (Patton, 1986:54). The individual is the most important factor in getting research results used (Patton, 1986:55). Patton came to that conclusion after studying the literature and conducting many evaluation research studies. He explored use factors related to quality and appropriateness of research methods, timeliness or lateness of the report, positive and negative findings, surprise of findings, central or peripheral program objectives, presence or absence of related studies, political factors, interactions between decision maker and evaluator, as well as resources available for the study.

 

 None of the other specific literature factors about which we asked questions emerged as important with any consistency....The personal factor represents the leadership, interest, enthusiasm, determination, commitment, assertiveness, and caring of specific, individual people. These are the people who are actively seeking information to reduce decision uncertainties so as to increase their ability to predict the outcomes of progammatic activity and enhance their own discretion as decision makers. These are the primary users of evaluation (Patton, 1986:45).

 

There's no question about it. The personal factor is far and away the most important....research of the last five years confirms the primacy of the personal factor (interview with Burry, 1985 cited in Patton 1986:55).

 

B. Personality and information intake & use

 

Although Glaser and others emphasized the inseparableness of characteristics of people, projects, and organizations, they also recognized the "variations in the makeup and status of the individuals who are the actors in the drama of change phenomena" (1983:88). They recommended studying individual roles as positive and as negative forces (1983:88).

 

Rogers (1983:257-259) reported support for the following personality variables in earlier versus later adopters: greater empathy, less dogmatic, greater ability to deal with abstractions, greater rationality, greater intelligence, more favorable attitude toward change, more able to cope with uncertainty and risk, more favorable attitude toward education and toward science, less fatalistic, higher levels of achievement motivation and higher aspirations.

 

Using Jungian personality theory and Berne's transactional analysis (TA) as frameworks, Ian and Donna Mitroff looked at ways individuals take in knowledge for use (1979). Jungian views, they say, are operationalized in the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicators and provide a nonthreatening mode of looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type. For people whose primary mode of behavior is sensation, information intake is best using concrete, specific, hard, impersonal facts. For those who measure intuitive on the scale, hunches and ideas from out of the blue depict their intake mode.

 

Perhaps they are enlightened by an array of input rather than informed by specific research studies. By juxtaposing transactional analysis against the combinations of sensing-intuiting and thinking-feeling indicators, they derive breakdowns for impersonal facts, impersonal possiblities, personal facts, and personal possibilities.

 

As an example, the sensing-thinking combination under the critical parent heading of transactional analysis is: "The only valid form of knowledge is that which is based on impersonal facts and which can be shown to be statistically reliable" (Mitroff & Mitroff, 1979:212). The mature adult, however, with the same sensing-thinking designation would say: "I prefer knowledge which is based on impersonal facts and can be shown to be statistically reliable but I recognize that this is not the only valid form of knowledge and I am prepared to learn from others" (Ibid).

 

C. Demographic aspects of knowledge use From a demographic perspective

 Rogers (1983:251-252) reported earlier adopters differed from later adopters as follows: more years of education, more literate, higher social status, greater degree of upward social mobility, larger-sized units (farms, companies, etc.), have a commercial economic orientation, more favorable attitude toward borrowing money, and have more specialized operations.

 

Achenbaum (1983) identified seven value dilemmas associated with aging some of which may affect responses to change. The seven value conflicts are: self reliance vs. dependency; expectation vs. entitlement; work vs. leisure; individual vs. family; private vs. public; equity vs. adequacy; novelty vs. tradition. In the latter there is a choice about whether to look for new, rational, possibly transient ways to cope with problems, or to rely on perennial, time-tested, widely-accepted means of addressing problems.

 

D. Communication behavior

 

Rogers (1983:258-9) reported that earlier adopters differed from later adopters in communication behavior as follows: more social participation, more highly interconnected in the social system, more cosmopolite, more change agent contact, greater exposure to mass media communication channels, greater exposure to interpersonal communication channels, seek information about innovations more actively, greater knowledge of innovations, higher degree of opinion leadership, and more likely to belong to highly interconnected systems.

 

Communication behavior in the future may be affected greatly by technology. Technology is not only helping to equalize access to information through computers, fax, television, etc. but also influencing the distribution of power. Power comes from knowledge as well as from wealth. As consumers gain greater direct access to knowledge, shifts will likely occur in the roles of those involved in knowledge production and use (Toffler, 1990).

 

E. Other

 

Perceptions, commitment, expectations, relationships The user context of Huberman's model building study (discussed at length in chapter 6) points to perceptions, commitment, expectations, and relationships as important variables related to use. "Predictors can cluster differently for different user publics" (Huberman, 1987: 604).

 

For example, highly defensive organizations can demonstrate poor knowledge of research findings yet perceive strong compatibility with staff opinions. They might then perceive the study as highly valid without having understood it, and might then contribute time and resources to following through. So we get strong instrumental effects through distortion of findings and a cascade of strategic use--the scenario that drives researchers wild (Ibid).

 

 

Tenure

 

Glaser and others (1983) indicated they found many studies related to tenure and productivity but not to tenure and innovativeness.

 

Social learning

 

Social learning theory as espoused by Professor Bandura (1977) and studied by others indicates that individuals learn by observing models of the desired behavior in person or via mass media. In a comparison of social learning and diffusion theories, Rogers said: both sets of scholars have begun to move more forcefully toward focus on the mutual exchange of information between two or more individuals as the basis for the convergence in cognitive and behavioral change (Rogers, 1983:306).

 

F. Techniques for individual change

 

Techniques for enhancing individual change proliferate the psychological literature. Selected examples include weight control, altering smoking habits, and the use of self-help groups or organizations. For weight control, Ferguson (1976) has assembled and successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of a number of behavior modification techniques including habit awareness, cue elimination, stimulus control, behavior chains and alternate activities, behavior analysis, problem solving, and environmental support. For altering smoking habits, Kennedy (1989) has identified the stages of individual change as: awareness, understanding, commitment to change, seeking out information, changing the habit. Kennedy says that too much attention is paid to the latter stages of the process and not enough to the first three stages where attitude change and social learning have to occur for successful implementation (1989: 110). She illustrates differences in change at the individual versus the organizational level.

 

When organizational policies change before individuals change, we get "No Smoking" signs that are ignored. When individual behaviors change first, social norms also change, and the official signs are no longer needed (Kennedy, 1989:114). Powell, in analyzing self-help organizations, categorized them in terms of their orientation to helping individuals make changes in themselves or in society (1987). The change strategies are more often based on experiential rather than scientific knowledge. However, studies have shown some of the change efforts to be effective. Habit-disturbance organizations include Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and Smokestoppers. These groups focus on behavior change and view habits as disadvantageous. They provide supporting literature such as the 12-step process, role models, and a reference group to assist in the habit change process.

 

General purpose self-help organizations, according to Powell (1987), encourage members through a reference group to work the program and gain the benefits. They are encouraged to let the program change the way they think about themselves so that changes in attitudes towards other things and people will follow.

 

They differ from the habit-disturbance organization in the more general and abstract goals requiring personal, concrete interpretation. They emphasize cognitive-expressive techniques, identification building, and resemble psychotherapy. They use mentors and models. Lifestyle self-help organizations, according to Powell, cluster in varied subcategories and include adult singles organizations, widow-to-widow programs, mental health consumer groups, retirement associations, adoption groups, and women's groups. Examples include Parents without Partners, American Association of Retired Persons, and the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Change for members involves adapting to a new lifestyle either temporarily or permanently. The group provides peer support with its concomitant experiential information and information on resources for adapting lifestyles. Their goals are broad and less specific. They advocate for social changes.

 

Significant-other organizations, Powell continues, help members overcome feelings of shame and guilt, protect them from troubled family members, insist public officials carry out their responsibilities, and try new approaches in relating to family members. Organizations included in this category include Families Anonymous, Toughlove, and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Change for members begins through confidence-building discussions, moves into developing assertiveness and networks (e.g. dime therapy or telephoning) and finally moves into paying back the organization for the help received.

 

Physical handicap organizations include goals that are disease-specific, adaptational, lifestyle, and technical. They help members through inspiration, reinforcement, modeling, information-communication, encouragement, and behavioral monitoring. These may include hospital visitation, individual and group discussion, newsletters, and pen pals. Professionals for whom helping is a primary activity contribute to individual change by creating a safe emotional environment for change. They help individuals identify goals and appropriate means for attaining those goals. They provide information needed to reach the goals. They assist the individual through the stages of change as needed and as included in their agency's procedures.

 

Self-help organizations and professionals sometimes work in complementary roles to help individuals make needed changes in their lives. Professionals may refer clients to self-help groups and self-help groups may refer members to professionals for individualized and skilled help. It is the complementary supportive role of provider and consumer that the prosumer approach to knowledge utilization seeks to promote.

 

IV. ORGANIZATIONS AS USERS

 

The organizational context for change consists of structures, systems, stages of development, and cultures that can affect receptivity to, and use of, knowledge and technology. Structures are centralized or decentralized (by geography, products, or tasks); entrepreneurial, functional, matrix, or multistructured; formal or informal (Handy, 1983:290-301); segmentalist or integrative (Kanter, 1984). Organizational systems likely to be affected by change include the adapting systems, operating systems, maintenance systems, and information systems (Handy, 1983:323-324). Organizations may be at one of several stages in their life cycles such as survival, growth, maintenance, or revitalization (Cribbin, 1984:49) when research results become available for use. Organizations differ in their cultural orientation--power, role, task, or person--(Handy, 1983:177-185) that contribute to readiness for and the manner of change. Cultures manifest in observable artifacts, values, and basic underlying assumptions (Schein, 1990:111). Let's look more closely at organizations as users of research outputs. What factors have been identified as predictive of use?

 

A. Organizational structures, systems, & cultures

 

 Rogers summarized the findings from hundreds of studies in the sixties and seventies on organizational innovativeness due to structural characteristics (1983:359-362). He found low negative correlations between centralization and formalization to initiation of innovations; however, once the decision to innovate was made, centralization and formalization "may actually encourage the implementation of innovations" (Rogers, 1983: 360). Interconnectedness among units in a social system as well as organizational slack (i.e., availability of uncommitted external resources) positively relate to organizational innovativeness.

 

Zaltman, Florio, and Sikorski (1977) had found similar results in the studies they reviewed on organizational variables and the innovation process. High correlations in the initiation phase were found for organizational complexity, interpersonal relations, and dealing with conflict and low correlations in this phase for formalization and centralization. In the implementation phase centralization, formalization, interpersonal relations, and dealing with conflict rated high and complexity rated low. Bingham, Freeman, and Felbinger (1984) studied organizational characteristics in relation to innovation characteristics and to differing contexts. The organizational characteristics included centralization, stability, bureaucratization, and complexity. The settings included council-manager cities and mayor-council cities. They found more study variables such as bureaucracy and complexity affect innovation adoption in mayor-council cities than in council-manager cities. Citing the consistency of that finding with Lineberry and Fowler (1967) they indicate this may be due to managers attenuation of the impact of the predictor variables on urban policy. Stability had little impact on innovative behavior in either setting except when interacting with high levels of other variables. Other aspects of their study explored relationships between process innovations vs. product innovations.

 

For rehabilitation organizations, Riggar and others (1990) suggest use of matrix organizational structures to improve dealing with environmental changes. Administrators, they say, who pursue matrix structuring can move into a proactive rather than reactive change orientation. The former relies on internal control of change rather than external controls. They cite Kilmann's approach to helping an organization move from a pyramid to a matrix: (1) educate personnel, (2) outline current culture, (3) create a matrix culture, and (4) balance the dual power (1985 cited in Riggar et al, 1990:116). They illustrate the system's culture factors delineated by Hagesfeld and Jones (1981 cited in Riggar, 1990:117). They believe it has direct applicability to rehabilitation organizations with their rigid rules and regulations. Misra and White (1990) suggest that structure and functions of rehabilitation programs are in part governed by their respective umbrella agencies. Shifting to a matrix structure, Riggar and others conclude, requires "considerable understanding, determination, and effort on the part of rehabilitation administrators before the real long-term advantages can be realized" (1990:117).

 

Kanter (1984) concluded from her study of 47 companies and 115 innovations that too many companies are still operating under a segmentalist system that inhibits efforts to solve problems and make necessary changes. The traditional mechanistic bureaucracy isolates departments and levels. That isolation results in people seeing only local manifestations of the problem and discourages the spreading of bad news, i.e., that there is a problem. The search for solutions is hampered in segmentalist cultures by favoring sorting of issues into preexisting categories or turning them over to specialists who respond within their own narrow frames of reference. "This style, this mode of organizing protects the successful organization against unnecessary change, ensures that it will repeat what it already 'knows'" (Kanter, 1984:31). When integrative methods are attempted within segmentalist organizational structures, the structure stifles innovation preferring the past solutions, forgetting the sources of its own original entrepreneurial successes. Among the intangible incentives for enterprise in high innovation companies, Kanter (1984) identified the following: pride-in-company; mainstreaming innovation norms; broad job charters; nonroutine, ambiguous, and change-directed assignments; intersecting job territories; and sufficient local autonomy to act without long delays for higher-level approvals. Instead of expecting formal reward systems to serve as incentives, high innovation companies invested in people before they carried out their projects. They trusted employees with assignments that required stretching of abilities. High innovation companies financed the project, provided resource support, and gave employees even bigger opportunities later which translated into enhanced reputation or position.

 

Less innovative companies attempted changes by top-down dictation, trials by change specialists, and the use of outsiders. An attitude of innovation was not ingrained or integrated among the employees within the organization. Instead it lay in the hands of outsiders and reinforced the culture of inferiority.

 

B. Organizational size

 

Studies of organizations and innovation adoption have operationalized size in terms of number of employees, numbers of the population served, number of hospital beds, daily student attendance, etc. Findings, therefore, differ partly due to definitions. Rogers (1983:359) sees size as a probable surrogate measure of other dimensions leading to innovation such as total resources, slack resources, organizational structure, and so on. He cites one study that juxtaposed the size of the agency to the size of the city and the cosmopoliteness, accreditation, and prestige of the director among his or her peers. He suggests saying farewell to size "or at least turn it over, and see what lies underneath" (Rogers, 1983:359).

 

C. Leadership and management

 Leadership according to Thompson (1967) and Tichy (1983) represents "those organizational members able to control allocation of resources, maintain control, and deal with uncertainty" (Thompson, 1967 cited in Tichy, 1983:18). Naisbitt and Aburdene, on the other hand, suggest that the dominant principle of organization has shifted from "management in order to control an enterprise to leadership in order to bring out the best in people and to respond quickly to change" (1990:218). They quote Russell E. Palmer, dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, on the differences between managers and leaders:

 

We have a lot of managers--short-term, control-oriented, report-oriented. Leaders think longer term, grasp the relationship of larger realities, think in terms of renewal, have political skills, cause change, affirm values, achieve unity (Palmer cited in Naisbitt & Aburdene, 1990:219). Turnover of leadership in an organization has been hypothesized as linked to adoption of product innovations. The expectation is that new executives are not only open to change, but feel compelled to make at least some type of change in an attempt to develop his or her identity in the organization (March & Simon, 1958; Downs, 1966; Meyer, 1975 cited in Bingham et al, 1984:321).

 

How stable the leadership--center of the decision-making process--is in an organization also affects consideration of innovations (Rogers & Shoemacher, 1971; Kimberly and Evanisko, 1981 cited in Bingham et al, 1984:321). Continuity of leadership was one of five elements that Crandell and others identified from several studies of utilization efforts (1986:40). Other related elements are: an absence of debilitating conflict; an effective, debugged innovation; frequent reminders that successful and faithful implementation is important; and adequate resources and support (Crandell et al, 1986:40).

 

Another leader-oriented factor affecting successful change is the confronting of significant problems. When leaders have a willingness to confront problems and the resource levels to do so, action will more likely be taken (Knight, 1967 in Bingham et al, 1984:321). Of the factors that Peters and Waterman (1982) found as contributors to excellence many revolve around leaders and how they relate to employees and customers. These include passioned leaders, getting everyone involved and committed to quality, taking time to recognize and reward initiative and excellent performance, instilling pride in the products and services, promoting a common vision, out-thinking the competition, and focusing on satisfying customer needs.

 

Managers may stifle innovations by viewing new ideas with suspicion, controlling everything, criticizing freely, treating problem identification as failure signs, insisting on multiple signatures for approvals, assigning lower-level managers the job of carrying out threatening decisions made, giving out information sparingly and only with justification, and never forgetting that the higher-ups know everything important about this business (Kanter, 1984).

 

Styles of leadership or management in an organization can also affect use. Styles may be authoritative or democratic [or laissez-faire] and in more recent years, contingency oriented, i.e., the best fit between leader and follower (Handy, 1983:87-103).

 

D. Continuum of organizational change strategies

 

Change may be initiated, internally or externally, by the organization's managers or internal champions or by external consultants or environmental conditions. Change may be planned or unplanned, incremental or transformative, collaborative or coerced, evolutionary or revolutionary. Dunphy and Stace (1988) offered a typology of change strategies in a contingency framework. They differentiated four types of change according to collaborative or coercive modes and incremental or transformative change strategies. Types 1 and 3 are participative evolution and forced evolution. Types 2 and 4 are charismatic transformation and dictatorial transformation. They relate each type to the perceived fitness with the environment in which the organization operates. They also relate it to support available for change. Type 1, participative evolution, is used under two conditions: (1) when an organization fits with its environment but needs minor adjustments or (2) is not fitting with the environment but time is available and key interest groups favor change (1988:331). Type 2, charismatic transformation, is used when organizations are not fitting with their environments and there is little time for extensive participation but there is support within the organization for radical change. Type 3, they continue, is forced evolution. This is used (1) when organizations are fitting with the environment but minor adjustments need to be made or (2) the organizations are out of fit but time is available and key interest groups oppose change. Type 4, dictatorial transformation, is used when organizations are out of fit with the environment, there is no time for extensive participation and no support within the organization for radical change but radical change is vital to organizational survival and fulfillment of the basic mission. Change agents, they say, should select and use the most effective strategy and mode of change rather than relying solely on those compatible with their own personal values. Tichy (1983) identified and brought together three dominant traditions that have guided thinking about organizations and the practice of change. Those are the technical, political, and cultural traditions. The technical tradition focuses on production problems amid "environmental threats and opportunities, social, financial, and technical resources" (1983:9). This tradition derives from Weberian bureaucracy, scientific and classical management, job design, and contingency theories. The political tradition centers on problems related to the allocation of power and resources. This tradition stems from Machiavellianism, coalitional view of organizations, exchange theorists, and political science power analyses. The cultural tradition looks at "values, objectives, beliefs, and interpretations shared by organizational members" (1983:10). Sources for this tradition come from studies in cultural anthropology, human relations, organization development, and humanistic psychology.

 

Tichy looked at those traditions as overlapping cycles that require continual adjustments (Tichy, 1983). Strategic change, nonroutine and nonincremental, starts with the recognition of problems, crises, or opportunities. His guidelines for managing transitions include: 1. Review the current state diagnosis and the desired state change strategy to determine the technical, political, and cultural adjustments required by the change. 2. Project the sequence of cycles. When will the technical, political, and cultural cycles peak? 3. Plan for unbundling and uncoupling the three systems in order to manage the transition in each. 4. Plan for managing the transitions in each cycle--technical transition, political transition, and cultural transition. 5. Plan for recoupling the systems. How will the technical, political, and cultural systems mesh in the desired state organization? (Tichy, 1983:335). Chapter 6 will highlight models of organizational change linked with knowledge utilization literature. Chapter 7 will address the concept of change agents and consultants' roles in the change process.

 

V. SOCIETIES AS USERS

 

A. Kinds of societal changes A number of authors have highlighted the changes occurring nationally and internationally that touch us all. Changes in world view, age, wave, & power have been noted by authors such as Elisabet Sahtouris (1989), John Naisbitt with Patricia Aburdene (1982, 1990), Leon Martel (1986), and Alvin Toffler (1980; 1990). A decade ago Naisbitt pointed to shifts from industrial society to information society, forced technology to high tech/high touch, national economy to world economy, short- term orientation to long-term orientation, centralization to decentralization, institutional help to self help, representative democracy to participatory democracy, hierarchies to networking, north to south, and either/or to multiple options (1982). For the coming decade he points to trends such as (l) the booming global economy, (2) a renaissance in the arts, (3) the emergence of free-market socialism, (4) global lifestyles and cultural nationalism, (5) the privatization of the welfare state, (6) the rise of the pacific rim, (7) the decade of women in leadership, (8) the age of biology, (9) the religious revival of the new millennium, and (10) the triumph of the individual (Naisbitt and Aburdene, 1990).

 

Toffler's trilogy of books on societal change began with Future shock. That book highlighted the process of change and the effects of change on people and organizations. He warned of the disorientation and stress (shock) that comes to individuals, organizations, and countries from trying to cope with too many changes in too short a timespan. His second book, The third wave, dealt with the directions of change. The agricultural and industrial waves were being superseded by a third wave that is characterized in large part by the prosumer, the fusion of producer and consumer. His latest book, Powershift, concentrates on the control of changes still to come. Knowledge, he says, provides the essential raw material for wealth creation that affects power distribution in companies, countries, and the world. Knowledge is being restructured by the computer, by advances in artificial intelligence and expert systems, and by "cognitive theory, learning theory, fuzzy logic, neurobiology, and other intellectual developments" (Toffler, 1990:427).

 

B. Understanding and managing societal changes

 

Martel (1986) believes understanding change rather than trends is the most effective way to anticipate and relate to the future. He elaborated a five-step strategy for ways readers could master structural and cyclical changes: recognize it, identify changes in the upstream versus downstream categories, determine type and pattern of each change, rank by importance and likelihood, and strategically respond to structural changes and tactically respond to cyclical changes. Martel (1986) also identified changes that offered hope for our futures. Changes included information becoming a valued resource, education increasing among the world's people, electronic networks of communication linking people more closely, hope for economic solutions, slowing population growth rate, changing nature of work, and rising per capita and discretionary incomes. He indicated that changing attitudes, preferences and priorities were signaling greater concern for quality, health, comfort and safety in our personal lives and environments. Juxtaposed to those structural more permanent changes are cyclical ones whose problems include periods of recession and inflation of business cycles, shortages and gluts in the demand-supply cycles, conflict and destruction of wars that enter cycles of organizational and societal behavior, and rises in rates of family breakup and crime in cycles of social behavior. Using his five-step strategy, he believes, the negative effects of the cyclical changes can be minimized.

 

C. Social policies

 

Bagentos, writing from an education perspective, calls our attention to the complex interactions operating between policy and context (1989). Intellectual issues and changing technology affect and are affected by federal education dissemination policy. As an example of intellectual issues, she references the national focus first on poverty and later on "equality--for bilingual students, for the handicapped, for women" (Bagenstos, 1989:29). Public concerns influence the content of what is disseminated and policies regarding "the appropriate structures and methods for disseminating information to support change" (Bagenstos, 1989:29). About technology she writes:

 

 Technology opens possibilities, but it also raises questions about which possibilities should be pursued. Those questions are policy questions in the deepest sense, involving choices based on values (Bagenstos, 1989:34).

 

She calls for research studies on the complex interaction between policy and context. Glaser and others echo from their studies the sizable impact of governmental factors on the diffusion and linkage process (1983:149). Federal subsidies and regulations inhibit and expand uses of innovations by the states and by businesses.

 

VI. A WORD ABOUT RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

 Numerous studies have dealt with the concept of obstacles, barriers, or resistance to change. They have identified cultural, social, organizational, and psychological barriers (Zaltman and Duncan, 1977). They have looked at the concept of resistance from varied perspectives: personal vs. structural, conscious vs. unconscious, unforced vs. forced change. Resistance from a personality perspective has been identified with factors such as homeostatis, habit, primacy, selective perception and retention, dependence, illusion of impotence, superego, self-distrust, insecurity and regression, deprivation, and anxiety (Watson, 1973 cited in Glaser et al, 1983:80). Resistance from an individual perspective may include perception, motivation, attitude, legitimization, accompaniments of trial, results of evaluation, actual adoption or rejection and manner of dissonance resolution (Zaltman and others, 1973 cited in Glaser et al, 1983:83-84). Glaser (1983) highlights studies linking change to fears of loss of status, job security, prestige, power, and self-esteem (Berlin, 1969, Havelock, 1969a, Glaser and Ross, 1974, Bright, 1964, Blum and Downing, 1964, Costello and Zalkind, 1963, Marmor, Bernard, and Ottenberg, 1960, Becker, 1970b, and Karmos and Jacko, 1977). The fear of loss can also be applied to independence, beliefs, values, people, places, and things.

 

Watson (1973) suggested that there is a life cycle of resistance to an innovation. The life cycle entails resistance that is first undifferentiated, then differentiated, and mobilized. This is followed by supporters of change coming into power and eventually by "one-time advocates of change becoming resisters of emerging change" (in Glaser et al, 1983:86-87).

 

As any well trained salesperson knows, the features of a given product must be couched in terms of the needs of the individual and the benefits from using the product. As marketing specialists have learned in more recent years, if the consumers don't have a say in the product, they may reject it totally. The long history of pushing research in a simplistic fashion without adequate consideration of the basic needs of potential users has contributed to the concept of resistance and the subsequent research validating it as a phenomena. Perhaps changing the focus of research may change the outcomes. The prosumer approach maximizes consumer involvement throughout every stage of the knowledge production and use process. Equal participation can help reduce resistance.

 

VII. FACTORS: UNKNOWNS

 

Glaser and others (1983) identified questions unanswered at that time and only beginning to be partly answered today. Those were:

 

 1. "What is the nature of the influence or causation implied?" Where does causation reside? (Ibid, 53)

 

2. "To what extent and by what mechanism is a given factor connected with other factors in producing whatever effect it may have?" (Ibid, 54)

 

3. What is the likely impact of variations in the factor's designation? (Ibid, 67)

 

4. "Are there characteristics of particular subject matters that make products based on them more or less likely to be adopted?" (Ibid, 46)

 

SUMMARY:

This chapter identified some of the major factors affecting knowledge utilization from the user and the research output perspectives. Output factors included, but were not limited to relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, observability, and trialability. Research outputs that link to the respective user populations' needs and interests are most effective. Individual factors related to personality, demographics, commmunication behavior, social learning styles, perceptions, commitment, expectations, and relationships. Techniques and resources for individual change included an array of professional and self-help strategies. Organizational structures, systems, cultures, leaders, and stages of development affect change. A continuum of change strategies ranged from incremental to transformative and from evolutionary to revolutionary. Martel offered hope for our futures by showing readers how to distinguish between structural and cyclical changes in the environment and use that knowledge to deal with societal change. Naisbitt and Aburdene point to the growth in individual responsibility as the key to the future. Toffler supported that with his prosumer approach, the fusion of the producer and consumer. Toffler went further to suggest that power-shifts will occur because of knowledge: its availability and its restructuring. The field of disability and rehabilitation will likely benefit most from considering ways to integrate consumers and producers more effectivley in service delivery and in research creation, dissemination, and utilization.

 

A LOOK AHEAD:

Chapter 5 addresses the information channels and dissemination strategies. The channel may be mass media (e.g., television, radio, newspapers, comics, videotext, magazines), informal contacts (such as a mail carrier, druggist, friend, family member), formal contacts (such as a champion, change agent or consultant), information service systems, educational programs, or other varied forms for information giving.

Chapter 3                     Chapter 5