CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

Chapter VII: Changing Paradigms, Assumptions, And Trends

 

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

Chapter VII: Changing Paradigms, Assumptions, And Trends

 

 Searches are underway for still newer models of knowledge utilization. Why? Because some of the old models are not working satisfactorily in today's environment. Backer, in addressing the 1990 annual meeting of the Society for Knowledge Utilization and Planned Change, pointed to the assumptions of complexity, corrigibility, subjectivity, and sociality affecting the next wave in knowledge utilization studies.

 

Recognition of complexity in the knowledge utilization process triggered exploration of new models, theories, and approaches. Recognition of the shortcomings of scientific knowledge such as its non-finality, its ill timing for addressing present social problems, and its non-holistic approaches open the doors to acceptance of more subjective research methods and a belief in the correctability of science. Finally, recognition of missing parts to the knowledge utilization process, i.e., the throughput and its social influences and self-structuring components lay the groundwork for change.

 

Among the many scholars echoing the need for change are Knorr-Cetina, Rogers, Ravetz, Patton, Porter, Rossini, Reason and Rowan. Knorr-Cetina address the convertibility of knowledge. Rogers recognizes the inequality elements in the diffusion process. Ravetz highlights issues surrounding usable ignorance. Patton looks at issues programming as an alternative to the agricultural extension model of knowledge utilization. Porter and Rossini reinforce the same need as Patton through their discussion of the multiskills approach to research. Reason and Rowan among others address subjectivity issues and roles of consumers. Still other authors highlighting the complexity issues follow the early paradigmatic discussions.

 

I. USERS REINVENTING, CONVERTING, OR ADAPTING INNOVATIONS

 

More than a decade ago scholars in knowledge utilization pointed to the complexity of successful knowledge utilization efforts. They cited incidents where users modified, accepted only parts of a new technique, reinvented or converted the innovation to fit their needs. Some even selectively rejected use. Early models of knowledge utilization had not taken any of these elements into consideration. (Huberman did include it in his integrated organization-oriented model under "degrees of transformation vs. fidelity" and the Concerns Based Adoption Model references the concept as "refinement".)

 

Knorr-Cetina (1981:158) argues that knowledge which cannot be converted to the "currency of a locally defined field of action remain sociologically ad hoc." Structures such as laws, regulations, knowledge, or plans and their effects on action must be brought into account when considering a theory of utilization (Ibid). Failure to consider these has led to embarrassment as in the busing situation. A theory of knowledge utilization also needs to recognize that most proposals for change and reform will be contested, met with open or hidden, immediate or delayed, suspicion and resistance (Ibid, 159).

 

The notion of utilization needed here is that of an interactive process in which social scientists do not, in principle, fare better than participants themselves: they can only negotiate ...certain steps at a time, and they will have to design and negotiate further action as the field of practice restructures itself....Self-determination precludes the social sciences from effectively engineering social practice, but it by no means precludes them from modalizing--and from thereby co-producing--the direction the social process takes. (Ibid, 159-160).

 

 Rice and Rogers (1980:503-4) suggested that diffusion agencies and adopters view reinvention differently. The former may not favor reinvention for a couple of reasons: (1) because of beliefs they know better than the users what form of innovation is best and (2) difficulties in measuring their performance if the innovation is altered. Adopters perceive reinvention (when they are aware of having reinvented an innovation) as a natural aspect of implementation. "Recognition of the existence of reinvention brings into focus a different view of adoption behavior: instead of simply accepting or rejecting an innovation, potential adopters are active participants in the adoption and diffusion process, struggling to give meaning to the new information as the innovation is applied to the local context" (Ibid, 512). Crandell and others (1986) in analyzing the conflicting literature on "adaptation" vs. "as is" adoptions, suggested a need to distinguish among three entities of the innovation: (1) core components that developers believed were necessary to achieve the desired results; (2) related components that enhance vs. assure success; and (3) implementation requirements including resources (users' knowledge and skills, materials, and equipment).

 

II. CONSEQUENCES OF INNOVATION

 Rogers points out that researchers and change agents have paid little attention to the consequences of innovations to an individual or a social system (1983:371). This is partly due to assumptions about positive consequences of innovations, the methodologies prominent in diffusion studies, and the difficulty in measurement. He proposed a taxonomy that analyzes consequences according to: (1) desirable versus undesirable; (2) direct versus indirect; and (3) anticipated versus unanticipated ones. He also addressed issues of equality resulting from innovations, illustrating how the effect of an innovation "was like a huge lever, prying wider the gap between the rich and the poor" (Ibid, 400).

 

Strategies which change agents can use for narrowing the gap in information access about innovations include the following: (1) disseminate information to lower socioeconomic subaudiences when appropriate and of interest; (2) tailor information by subaudience characteristics; (3) use appropriate communication channels for the segments of lower socioeconomic audiences; (4) organize those with less access (the "Downs") into small groups focused on innovations; (5) focus on late majority and laggard versus innovators and early adopters (Ibid, 403-405).

 

 To improve access of "downs" to innovation-evaluation information, Rogers suggests: identifying opinion leaders, using change agent aides from among the disadvantaged, activating peer networks about an innovation, and organizing formal groups among the "Downs" to provide leadership and social reinforcement in their innovation decision making (Ibid, 406). To help give "Downs" an equal advantage regarding slack resources for adopting innovations, Rogers (1983:407-8) recommends giving priority to the "Downs" in developing innovations, accessing slack resources, and getting involved in the planning process. He also suggests establishing special diffusion agencies to work with the "Downs" and putting emphasis on spreading experience-based ideas (Ibid).

 

Holzner & Fisher (1981) echo the inequality theme in terms of access to knowledge resources. "The fact that bodies of knowledge are differentially anchored in social structure and that therefore access to them is very unequally distributed is obvious....Equally important is the differential distribution of knowledge-related resources, skills, and jurisdictions. All this, no doubt, affects the role of knowledge-related incentives and interests" (Ibid, 231).

 

Huberman (1987) identified a wide range of potential impacts at the primary and secondary level of effect. His impacts on users included conceptual use (knowledge, certainty, clarity, attitude/opinion changes), instrumental use (policy, decisions, actions, activities), negatives (confusion, uncertainty, delay of action, decision, intra-organizational tensions, conflict), limited or full use, continuity and durability of impact.

 

At a secondary effect level he addressed for users spread, spillover/spinoff further collaboration, linkage, attitude toward future research diffusion & use, organizational effects of the second order, and career effects. The impact to researchers included conceptual, attitudinal, instrumental, and costs of quality of the study and other tasks, prestige, credibility, career, conflicts, stress. Secondary effects to researchers included spread/spillover, linkages with users, and effects on career.

 

III. USING SCIENTIFICALLY CREATED IGNORANCE

 

 Science does not have the answers to some of today's questions (Ravetz, 1987). In time, the assumption goes, science would solve societal problems and progressively eliminate ignorance. Ravetz argues that science is creating as much ignorance as it eliminates such as with radioactivity and the ignorance surrounding how to manage it in all its dangerous manifestations (Ibid, 100). He recommends, therefore, that we become aware of our ignorance and use it to avoid disastrous pitfalls such as experienced in the nuclear power industry.

 

In applying usable ignorance to a biosphere project and its multidimensional problems, Ravetz says it is necessary to develop a new scientific style. Among the precedents not likely to work, he says are: (1) the gathering of experts occasionally to exhibit their wares and leave synthesis up to the meeting organizers, (2) multidisciplinary teams focused on protecting their own futures amid the nominally collaborative effort, and (3) the task force model that "depends critically on the simplicity of the defining problem, and on an authoritarian structure of decision and control" (Ibid, 112).

 

To address multidimensional (including transnational) complex problems requires focusing on motivation and technique, Ravetz says. What is needed is motivation that sparks enough people to see the problem as a professional job that continues post-project and that employs techniques that enhance ideas and perspectives. "We may well find ourselves experimenting with techniques of personal interaction that have been developed for policy formation, but that have hitherto been considered as irrelevant to the austere task of producing new knowledge" (Ibid, 113).

 

IV. ISSUES PROGRAMMING & THE INFORMATION-AGE EXTENSION MODEL

 

The agricultural extension model so successful in diffusing agricultural technologies to farmers is in need of change (Patton, 1988). The old assumptions underlying the model need reassessing in light of present trends, patterns, and observations. Patton enumerates ten forces pointing to the need for change in the traditional model: (1) commercialization of farming, (2) more highly educated farmers who can access, understand, and use new technologies directly without being dependent on Extension services, (3) perceptions that technology transfer is contributing to the over-production problem, (4) globalization of agriculture, (5) bifurcation of farming, (6) the 1980's farm crisis suggesting need for a systems approach, (7) changes in land-grant universities (e.g., older students, reentry learners, part-time students, rural residents as well as outreach beyond agriculture), (8) needs assessment processes, (9) Extension's access to a broadening knowledge base, and (10) Extension professionals who hold a broad view of Extension's mission i.e., technology transfer, education, problem solving, development in the context of issues programming.

 

Patton (1988) contrasts the disciplinary and department programming of the extension programs situated in land-grant colleges or universities with a proposed issues programming approach. Issues programming permits responsiveness to wide public concern and program evaluation based on the impact on people affected by the issues (Ibid, 484).

 

Patton suggests there is an information-age extension model emerging that is: issues based, involves user clientele, includes flexible structures, uses multiple communications techniques, has matrix-organizational roles, has permeable boundaries to link with other university subsystems, and depends "upon mutual interests, negotiations, and shared values undergirded by the movement of resources into and out of the system in ways that have a visible impact on issues of critical public concern" (Ibid, 488-490). "The Agricultural Extension Model based on technology transfer worked well in simpler times when American agriculture was a closed system in which discrete innovations could make a predictable and controlled difference. In an open-systems world characterized by complex and unpredictable interdependencies, Extension is developing an organizational structure, a culture, and a mission that can have an impact on critical issues of the information age" (Ibid, 490).

 

 Mathisen (1990) echoes the same theme as Patton. Instead of discipline-specific research he advocates developing problem-solving communities. Those action-oriented communities would include a mix of researchers from several disciplines and representatives from the users of research in society. A well-functioning problem-solving community can help guarantee the quality and relevance of research.

 

V. MULTISKILLS RESEARCH

 

While many studies have addressed the need for interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, or transdisciplinary research, Porter and Rossini (1986) make a case for multiskill research. Using the acronym "STRAP" they suggest an approach to accessing the intellectual skills required for a research project. 'S' represents substantive areas, 'T' stands for techniques, and 'R' indicates the range of intellectual skills. 'A' refers to the administrative variable in terms of the number and relationships among the organizations involved in the conduct of the research. Finally 'P' reflects the personnel involved in the project and the permanence of their relationships. "Characterizing a research project in terms of the mix of the substantive knowledge areas and techniques involved illuminates more fundamental structural features than does the characterization in terms of the mix of disciplines involved" (Ibid, 225).

 

VI. CHANGING PARADIGMS IN DIFFUSION AND DEVELOPMENT

 

Rogers (1983), writing from a diffusion of innovations perspective, identified emerging alternatives to the dominant paradigm of development. The main elements in the dominant paradigm of development included: (1) economic growth through industrialization and urbanization, (2) capital-intensive, labor-saving technology, (3) centralized planning to speed up the process of development in developing nations, and (4) mainly internal causes of underdevelopment rather than in trade or external relationships with industrialized countries. Emerging alternatives to the dominant paradigm include: (1) equality of distribution, (2) improving the quality of life, (3) greater emphasis on appropriate technology, (4) self-reliance in development at the local level, and (5) internal and external causes of underdevelopment (amounting to a redefinition of the problem by developing nations) (Ibid, 121).

 

Rogers also stated that the classical diffusion model overlooked alternatives in the form of various decentralized systems. Centralized diffusion systems "flow in a one-way, linear direction, top-down from experts to users" while the "decentralized diffusion systems are client-controlled, with wide sharing of power and control among the members of the diffusion system" (Ibid, 346).

 

VII. THE THIRD WAVE AND THE RISE OF THE PROSUMER

 The self-help movement that began in the late sixties and blossomed in the seventies challenged the professional control of knowledge. That movement helped demystify some of the professional and scientific knowledge. Self-help materials and self-help groups mushroomed. With support from members of the medical profession, previously unavailable medical information, (kept from patients who couldn't possibly understand it), became available. Consumers began having access in layperson's terms to books and other resources for self-testing, self-diagnosis, and self-treatment. Usually those books emphasized the conditions which dictate seeking professional advice while opening the door to knowledge areas closeted before. As self-help organizations grew, consumers became more discerning and critical users of professional services, oftentimes making potential consumers aware of the availability of professional resources (Powell, 1987). The growth of such resources and indigenous services helped reduce the burden of unrealistic expectations of professional service providers.

 

The consumerism movement swept the country also and challenged the quality of products, the right to privacy, and access to information about the product, themselves or their country. No longer would consumers be passive purchasers of products and services portrayed as good for them. As they became more and more educated they identified their rights to quality products and services. They began speaking out against products and services that threatened their health and their environment. They sought and won opportunities to help plan services and products that would, in turn, better address their needs and wants. Toffler reported (1980) that consumers were assuming greater and greater roles in the marketplace. Assessment of consumers' needs and consumer views of proposed product designs are becoming an integral part of product development. This is not occurring without first overcoming fear of losing control by inviting consumers into strategy and policy discussions (Naisbitt, 1982). "I do not think it an oversimplification to state that producers can only become more successful by learning how better to satisfy consumers" (Ibid, 178).

 

Toffler, in noting the trends toward self-help, consumer empowerment, and more, juxtaposed what he was witnessing nationally against the agricultural and industrial societies. He concluded that society is moving into the Third Wave. As readers will recall, in the agricultural society, consumers produced for themselves and their masters. That he calls the First Wave. In the Second Wave (under the industrial society) consumers were mostly separated from producers by the market, the vehicle for exchange of goods and services. Toffler documented the fact that American society is reintegrating the consumer and producer in many ways and moving into the Third Wave, building on the two prior waves. He calls the reintegration of consumer and producer, "the prosumer":

 

 In short, whether we look at self-help movements, do-it-yourself trends, or new production technologies, we find the same shift toward a much closer involvement of the consumer in production. In such a world, conventional distinctions between producer and consumer vanish. The 'outsider' becomes an 'insider,' and even more production is shifted from Sector B of the economy [i.e., comprises all the production of goods or services for sale or swap through the exchange network or market] to Sector A where the prosumer reigns [i.e., where unpaid work is done directly by people for themselves, their families, or their communities] (Ibid, 292).

 

 The rise of the prosumer, powered by the soaring cost of many paid services, by the breakdown of Second Wave service bureaucracies, by the availability of Third Wave technologies, by the problems of structural unemployment, and by many other converging factors, leads to new work-styles and life arrangements (Ibid, 293). In the past decade since Toffler wrote The Third Wave, the countries of Europe have rearranged themselves, Russia and the United States have ended the cold war, and the world has gone to war. Many changes in the worldview are occurring. The prosumer approach is now a prominent potential for knowledge utilization in the rehabilitation field. Every citizen could help build the common knowledge base that enhances the quality of our lives.

 

VIII. ROLES FOR MAXIMIZING UTILIZATION

 As society shifts its worldview so also do roles shift. According to Sahtouris (1989) the world view of society moved from a religious worldview to a mechanistic one. At the same time the most prestigious professions shifted from clergy (keepers of the accumulated knowledge) to law and later to medicine. As science came into its own status, philosopher-scientists shifted to research-scientists (those who use the scientific method) and have the potential for shifting to practitioner-scientists or prosumer-scientists. What roles should researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and consumers fill in knowledge production and use? Should these be discrete, supplemental, or complementary? Is it time for another shift in roles?

 

A. Capabilities of the general public

 

Pierce & Lovrich (1982) went behind the scenes to assumptions about what citizens can and cannot do with respect to policymaking activities. They studied the distribution and consequences of policy-relevant information among citizens, activists, legislators, and experts. Among other things, they demonstrated the capabilities of the general public to form quality preferences about policy alternatives when provided with appropriate information.

 

When the most informed portions of the public are segregated for separate analysis, their opinion preferences are as organized and as consistent as those of policymakers and experts. Thus, clearly a substantial portion of the public is able to find the common dimensions in policy questions, and a sizable group of citizens are able to articulate opinions about issues that fall together along this policy dimension (Ibid, 545-546).

 

The authors also noted that "people holding higher levels of information don't find their preferences any better represented than do people in the general public" (Ibid).

 

B. Citizens/values; scientists/facts

 Hammond and Mumpower (1979) believe that citizens and researchers each have a role to play in social policymaking. Citizens must identify the social values and researchers must identify the scientific facts. They suggest a systematic way--the Linkage Approach--to integrate the facts and values. They illustrated the approach in terms of the handgun ammunition issues facing the

 

Denver city government and local police department. Citizens clarified the values, i.e., what ought to be, related to the issue. For example, which is most important: minimizing injury? maximizing stopping effectiveness? or minimizing threat to bystanders? Citizens also identified trade offs they were willing to make among the three dimensions if no ammunition could satisfy the three criteria. Ballistic experts, on the other hand, provided the facts, the technical information regarding each kind of bullet. A comparison of values and facts netted a successful resolution of the problem. Hammond and Mumpower suggest this delineation of roles can be applied in other research endeavors.

 

C. Consumers as research designers & producers

 The authors of Human Inquiry (Reason & Rowan, 1985) argue that consumers should be an integral part of the research from the design, including the questions to be studied and the methods of study, to the application of the design and the subsequent findings. Keeping consumers in the subject status alienates, degrades, and further distances consumers, they say. Instead of looking at the wide range of consumers' behaviors researchers look only at one small segment of that range. Using consumers as subjects puts them in a lower power status to researchers. In other words, power between researchers and consumers needs to be balanced in order to lead to outcomes more useful to both groups.

 

 Researchers looking at forty years of social problem research also pointed to the need for consumers to be involved early in the research process and for the totality rather than only the parts of the picture to be studied (Gregg, et al, 1979). They cited examples of homosexuals, women, Black Americans, and "authoritarian personalities" who challenged the premises, nature, or focus of the research conducted on their respective populations. Gay people said that researchers were overlooking topics of great importance to them such as "the consequences of self-disclosure, the dynamics of gay relationships, and the development of positive identities" (Ibid, 36). Women challenged the victim-blaming focus taken in research on rape. Cultural values supporting male aggressiveness, etc. were being overlooked (Ibid, 37). Blacks sought to be studied with respect and sensitivity to the implications of the data (Ibid, 52). Those identified as having an authoritarian personality challenged the research (Ibid, 52). The authors believe, "Where those who suffer from social problems have power to influence how they are studied, social science is better off for it" (Ibid).

 

In government, i.e., the legislative and regulatory arena, consumers are playing more significant roles. They have helped evaluate present practices and presented testimony before Congress on the effects of services and products they have received (or failed to receive). They have offered possible solutions to the problems they faced with service delivery and suggested reallocation of resources to better address their needs. Their efforts, sometimes combined with efforts of other advocates, have led to major changes in the laws and regulations that govern society and in some instances affected research priorities.

 

D. Practitioners as planners and developers

 

Crandell and others (1986) summarized literature related to the participation of teachers in the planning and development process for school improvement. They cited Huberman's classroom press problems: press for immediacy and concreteness, for multidimensionality and simultaneity, for adapting to ever-changing conditions, and for personal involvement with students (Ibid, 28). Effects on teachers of such pressures include focusing on the short term, isolation from other adults, depleting energy by day's end, and rare reflection about teaching. "Since the requisite conditions for ensuring success are rarely present, teacher involvement in innovation development should be viewed cautiously; if it is chosen, it should be adequately supported" (Ibid, 30). Supports include "additional resources, primarily release time during the regular school day, access to outside 'experts'--either from within the district or outside--who can help them with the development process. "The school or district should not be in a hurry for change; local teacher development is a time-consuming process that if rushed is likely to fail" (Ibid, 29).

 

Louis and others (cited in Crandell et al, 1986:34) "found a relationship between broad teacher participation and successful change, but only at the point of affirming the choice of innovations." Crandell and others cited studies linking teacher satisfaction with the degree of participation, the phase of planning, the adequacy of time available to plan, and the degree of congruence between desired and actual participation. Commitment increases, they say, as teachers "simultaneously see themselves master the practice and perceive that their students are doing better" (Ibid, 34). Cooley and Bickel present case evidence to document the importance of client-oriented research. In their decision-oriented educational research approach (1985 cited in Patton, 1986:56), the intended user is integrated into the process at all stages through ongoing dialogue between the researcher and the client.

 

In 1904 John Dewey advocated developing educators who would actively study the teaching/learning processes (cited in Crandell et al, 1986:44). Some scholars today suggest that the emphasis should not be placed on institutionalizing innovations but rather on renewal within the context of the teaching occupation (Lortie and Huberman cited in Crandell et al, 1986:44).

 

IX. STRUCTURES FOR MAXIMIZING KNOWLEDGE UTILIZATION

Organizational structures have been changing (Naisbitt, 1982; Weisbord, 1987). No longer are the chains of command so tall and so tightly linked. Hierarchies have flattened. Middle and top managers are fewer. Blue-collar and white-collar work have less distinctions. Information technology, diversity, networking, and a world marketplace have entered the scene and altered organizational futures. Futures conferences (also referred to as search conferences or visioning) have become more prominent among organizations. "The conference fully embodies third-wave managing and consulting--getting the whole system in the room, focusing on the future, having people do the work themselves" (Weisbord, 1987:287). From an organizational change perspective, roles too often may be ambiguous and lead to stress (Growthway, 1990). They emphasize the importance of organizations differentiating among roles while still involving all parties in a participatory way. They identified four major roles within the power cycle: evaluators, recommenders, deciders, and implementers. Evaluators assess the state of the art while recommenders look at future possibilities.

 

Deciders determine direction while implementers take the necessary action. All roles are important and leaders who share power and control with their followers produce the desired results more often than those who do not. Going beyond intraorganizational structures to inter- organizational structures, there is a trend toward the creation of alliances, partnerships, collaborative efforts. Private firms, industries, universities, state governments, and the federal government are working together on research and development (National Academy of Science, 1986; Fusfeld and Haklisch, 1987 cited in Feller, 1987:243). Even competitors, in some instances, are joining forces to assure the available funds come their way. The Ben Franklin Partnership Program in Pennsylvania, as an example, unites state government, universities, and industries in research and demonstration activities. The advantages of such linkages has been described by Feller:

 

 The search for new alliances in selected fields has increased not only because of the advent of new scientific discoveries, but also because of the possibilities such discoveries create in compressing the stages of discovery, application, and development. In practice, this means the organizational and/or contractual integration of discovery with application and development. As Panem (1984:75) has noted for biotechnology, use of genetic engineering techniques "allows the work of all three phases to be done at the same work site" (Feller, 1987:245).

 

Kilmann (1981) identified several organizational designs--collateral, interdependency, differentiation, and integration--that could be more wisely used to enhance the knowledge utilization process. He suggests beginning with the collateral organization design (similar to the matrix structure in some organizations) that is superimposed over the formal organizational structure. The collateral design addresses longer-term problems and objectives using more loosely structured, information-seeking, representatives from throughout the organization. Authority and reward systems follow the formalizing of this collateral design.

 

Next Kilmann chooses an interdependency design: pooled, sequential, or reciprocal. The pooled form requires some coordination, planning, scheduling, and communicating regarding separate tasks. The sequenced form requires one group to complete the tasks before the other groups can respectively do their parts. The reciprocal form requires frequent or continuous interaction. Then differentiate the subunits to be involved according to the best fit between that unit and the characteristics of its task environment. That fit may mean a loose, dynamic, changing structure or a more controlled and less flexible one according to the nature of the tasks for that subunit of an organization. Finally, incorporate integration designs that coordinate the subunits in a way that they can function better as a whole. Kilman says that research studies are needed to test the concepts and principles for differing, yet complementary, organizational designs.

 

X. BEYOND PARADIGMS TO METHODOLOGICAL APPROPRIATENESS

 

Using a program evaluation perspective, Patton traced the contrasting paradigms in research methodology. Those included the naturalistic and experimental inquiry options, the deductive and inductive approaches, objectivity and subjectivity amid the need for fairness and balance, the continuum of distance from versus closeness to the program, variables versus wholes, and uniformity or diversity. He showed the trend towards greater methodological tolerance. He also pointed out that well known scholars of measurement and experimental design, Cronbach and Campbell, had publicly endorsed qualitative studies. "The focus is now on methodological appropriateness rather than orthodoxy, methodological creativity rather than rigid adherence to a paradigm, and methodological flexibility rather than following a narrow set of rules. The methodological dragon has been tamed" (Patton, 1986:213).

 

In the taming of the dragon, Patton says, the emphases on threats to data quality or validity have been expanded to a consideration of the threats to utility. His overview of validity threats include but are not limited to--maturation, societal changes, reactions to measurement and evaluation, experimental mortality--with naturalistic approaches coming off at least as well as experimental approaches in the validity issue. "The key point is that it is impossible to identify in the abstract and in advance all of the trade-offs involved in balancing concerns for validity, reliability, utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy that will need to be considered in any particular situation" (Ibid, 241).

 

Patton's list of threats to utility of program evaluation results include the following:

 --failure to focus on intended use by intended users

 --inadequate involvement of primary intended users in making methods decisions;

 --focusing on unimportant issues--low relevance

 --inappropriate methods and measures given stakeholder questions and information needs

 --poor stakeholder understanding of the evaluation generally and findings specifically

 --low stakeholder belief and trust in the evaluation process and \findings

 --failure to design the evaluation to fit the context and situation

 --low face validity

 --unbalanced data collection and reporting

 --perceptions that the evaluation is unfair

 --low evaluator credibility

 --political naivete

 --failure to keep stakeholders adequately informed and involved along the way as design alterations are necessary (Patton, 1986:242).

 Dunn's list of threats to usable knowledge include misjudged or misplaced cogency, misplaced or untimely relevance, misplaced adequacy, subjectivity, reflexivity, misclassification, misrepresentation, perspectivity, objectivity, spuriousness, misplaced comparison, counterauthentication, substantiality, misplaced reflexivity (Dunn, 1982: 318-321). He classifies truth tests "according to the general and specific functions they perform in knowledge transactions" (Ibid, 314). Those functions include:

 

(1) empirico-analytic: knowledge adequacy is certified by assumptions about the logical consistency of axioms, laws, propositions, hypotheses, or principles and/or their correspondence to empirically observed regularities; (2) interpretive: knowledge adequacy is certified by assumptions about the action-motivating significance of purposes, intentions, reasons, or motivations; (3) pragmatic: knowledge adequacy is certified by assumptions about the effectiveness of past experiences in producing desired outcomes in parallel contexts; (4) authoritative: knowledge adequacy is certified by assumptions about the achieved or ascribed status of knowledge producers, the orthodoxy of knowledge, or the use of approved methods; and (5) critical: knowledge adequacy is certified by assumptions about the consequences of such knowledge in emancipating individuals and collectivities from unexamined or tacit beliefs that impeded the realization of human potential (Ibid, 315).

 

Breakdowns of those five classifications encompass:

 

(1) empirico-analytic: causal, quasi-causal, typological, representational, and analogical; (2) interpretive: teleological and quasi-teleological; (3) pragmatic: clinical and comparative; (4) authoritative: personal, ideological, ethical, and methodical; (5) critical: ontological and emancipatory (Ibid, 316-317).

 

XI. OTHER METHODOLOGICAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR KU

 

Other related methodological recommendations address utilization-focused research, case studies, analytically-based studies, and integrative use studies.

 

A. Utilization focused evaluation research Rafter (1984) offers three guidelines for designing evaluation research to maximize utilization:

 

1. Evaluators should employ a contingent strategy in designing evaluation research by selecting from among a range of choices the approach best suited to the utilization desired. [USE FOCUSED RESEARCH DESIGNS]

 

 2. In implementing evaluation research, equal attention should be paid to how a program works as to the outcomes of a program. [PROCESS AND OUTCOMES]

 

3. In addition to traditional research skills, evaluators need 'non-standard' group process skills. [FACILITATION SKILLS FOR RESEARCHERS] (Ibid,165-185).
 

 

B. Case studies

 Yin, Bateman, & Moore (1985:249-260) studied 53 cases of organizational innovation. They suggested that future case studies could improve utilization if they included the following: "First, reflect at least five concerns--problem definition, research design, nature of the evidence, analysis and interpretation, and manner of presentation. Second,...clearly establish whether the purpose of a case study is to contribute to knowledge about practice or about theory (or both). Third,...define the innovation process being studied in clear, operational terms. Fourth, by inference, peer reviews of case studies should consider using these guidelines...."(Ibid, 258).

 

C. Use of analytically based studies Mandell and Sauter (1984:145-164) identified features of the ideal study of the use of analytically based information in public agencies. Those features are:

 

 --a sample that is not limited to units with which the researcher has had previous contact, but instead is representative in terms of sectors, organizations within those sectors, and levels within those organizations.

 

--estimates of the effects of various independent variables on use that are obtained by measuring use and each independent variable and then applying appropriate correlational techniques to these measures rather than by asking respondents directly to specify factors affecting use;

 

--measures of use that are explicitly defined and are capable of detecting uses of ABI that are less dramatic than those recognized in 'decisionistic' formulations as well as uses that may offend our notions of 'correct' uses of ABI...;

 

--utilization-type...measures of use, if employed, that are based upon longitudinal assessments--through interview and/or unobtrusive data--of variables such as the beliefs and attitudes of relevant individuals rather than on respondents' direct assessments of the extent to which these were affected by ABI;

 

--incorporation of independent variables that indicate which, if any, strategies to increase the use of ABI were employed in each case observed;

 

--application of sampling and data analysis techniques that aid in detecting interactions among independent variables (Mandell & Sauter, 1984:161).

 

D. Method changes for integrative use studies Bingham, Freeman, and Felbinger (1984), under a National Science Foundation grant, studied innovation adoption. So many disclaimers regarding the generalizability of innovation research led them to empirically evaluate Downs and Mohr's approach to innovation research. That approach stemmed from a belief that research findings are unstable for complex organizations and that a theory of innovation cannot be developed. However, innovation research studies could lead to an integrative theory if seven methodological changes occurred. Those changes related to primary and secondary attributes of innovations, interactive models, innovation-decision design for analysis, avoiding aggregate scoring for innovations on organizations involved with multiple innovation studies, distinguishing between extent and time of adoption, and studying adoptability by using many innovations in one organization or by using the innovation-decision design (Downs & Mohr, 1976:712-713 in Bingham et al, 1984).

 

XII. TAXONOMIC VIEW

Arnold Reisman (1989) presents a taxonomic view of technology transfer that has applicability to knowledge utilization and the rehabilitation field. His taxonomy, i.e., classification system, looks at transfers between and among: scientific disciplines, professions (input-oriented, output-oriented, and market-oriented), industries, economic sectors, geographic regions, and societies/countries. The six entities may be origins or destinations of transfers. Hierarchically, the disciplines, professions, and industries form the primary level of transfer. Sectors and regions compose the secondary level, and countries the tertiary level. His taxonomic view includes crossovers among disciplines, professions, and industries amid boundaries: sectors, regions, national, and multi-national. "Mapping the universe of technology transfers would not be complete without at least mentioning the dichotomy between transfers that are legal, ethical, and moral and those which fall short in any of the above. This opens up the entire area of patent and copyright laws, international and industrial intelligence and counter-intelligence, and the various caveats and admonitions addressing issues of ethics, as well as the various technologies to prevent unauthorized transfers" (Ibid, 35).

 

XIII. OTHER

 In critiquing the limits of research use by policy-makers Weiss (1986) says: "Nor does any one study, or even any body of research, encompass all the variables that decision makers have to attend to--such as public reaction, financial costs, social costs, instability, political advantage. Social scientists usually ignore factors such as these--they are not built into the model" (Ibid, 277).

 

SUMMARY: This chapter has documented a number of reasons for changing the underlying utilization paradigm with its two-communities mindset. Users are helping produce research as well as adapting and converting innovations. Past diffusion practices have increased inequality. Scientific knowledge has gaps and adds areas of ignorance. Societies are more open now; and consumers and producers are overlapping roles in other areas of society. Roles and structures are shifting. Technology is advancing information access that leads to knowledge and concomitant power. There is greater methodological tolerance and recognition of the need for issues programming and multiskills research. Interdependency, continual communication, equality, and public participation in problem identity and research priority setting are consistent themes. While some of these recommended directions are well entrenched in the rehabilitation field already, other aspects are not.

 

A LOOK AHEAD: The prosumer approach described in the next chapter, if implemented, can lead to improved outcomes for people with disabilities. Details of the approach, roles of all stakeholders in the rehabilitation field, and an implementation plan follow.

Chapter 6                     Chapter 8