Approaches to Change
In a sense, U.S. schools are currently locked in a war against ignorance
and apathy. Whether we win or lose will depend, in large part, on
-- Deal, 1990, p. vii
Many writers have made contributions to the change literature.
One still recognized is Lewin, who in 1936 conceptualized the stages
of change as "unfreezing," "change" or intervention, and "refreezing."
Cited also and still appreciated is Rodgers (1971), who reported
five categories of change adopters, providing a series of descriptions
of people who adopt change early, not so early, and late. Prominent
also in the history of change process models are those categorized
by Chin and Benne (1969) and Havelock (1971).
Chin and Benne (1969) and Havelock (1971) each articulated three
types of models, and the two sets shared some overlapping conceptualizations.
Some of the models had a primary focus on innovation and organization,
while others centered on the individual, with more frequent attention
to innovation and organization, as can be seen in Figure 1. Students
of organizational change and the change process will almost always
point to Getzels and Guba (1957) as the first to distinguish between
nomothetic elements, or organizational expectations to reach goals,
and idiographic elements, or needs of individuals who achieve the
goals. Theirs was an early conceptualization that identified the
individual as a factor to be considered (Hoy & Miskel, 1987). It
was some decades after Getzels and Guba's specification that real
attention was paid to the individual in organizational change, as
we shall see.
Figure 1. Central Focus of the Models
|Focus on Individual
|Chin & Benne (1969)
Research, development, diffusion
Because there are similarities in the Havelock and Chin/Benne
models, and to simplify the discussion that follows, only Chin and
Benne's categories will be described. Further, because it is instructive
in understanding the evolution of approaches to change, two subsequent
generations of labels and applications for Chin and Benne's categories,
by House and by Sashkin and Egermeier, will be included. The association
between Chin and Benne's three categories and the three authors
is portrayed in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Three Generations of Approaches to Change
|Chin & Benne
||Fix the parts
||Fix the people
||Fix the school
The basic assumption underlying the empirical-rational model is
that individuals are rational and will follow their rational self-interest.
Thus, if a "good" change is suggested, people of good intention
will adopt the change. This approach "posits that change is created
by the dissemination of innovative techniques" (Sashkin & Egermeier,
1992, p. 1). A primary strategy of this model is the dissemination
of knowledge gained from research. One example of agencies and systems
used for the development and diffusion of such research results
are agricultural extension systems and the county agents who disseminate
the results of agricultural research. In education, these activities
are the domain of educational research and development centers,
regional educational laboratories, state departments of education,
colleges and universities, national diffusion networks, intermediate
service agencies, and staff development personnel within school
districts. The rational view generally ignores the fact that school
systems are already crowded with existing passive (though rational)
recipients, who may not have the necessary time or expertise to
adopt or apply (implement) the new knowledge or program.
House's technological perspective, the first of his three that
address knowledge utilization and innovation processes, views change
as a relatively mechanistic process and has an underlying image
of products to be used and tasks to be done. Sashkin and Egermeier's
fix-the-parts approach to change involves the adoption of proven
innovations of various types to reach improvement. The empirical-
rational, technological, and fix-the-parts depictions are parallel
in their underlying philosophies and appear to assume that good
innovations, without doubt, will be incorporated into practice.
Sashkin and Egermeier note that adding political and cultural elements
to the fix- the-parts approach enhances its success.
people and the parts.
The power-coercive approach relies on influencing individuals and
systems to change through legislation and external leverage where
power of various types is the dominant factor. Power-coercive strategies
emphasize political, economic, and moral sanctions, with the focus
on using power of some type to "force" individuals to adopt the
change. One strategy is nonviolent protest and demonstrations. A
second strategy is the use of political institutions to achieve
change -- for example, changing educational policies through state-level
legislation. Judicial decisions also impact educational policy.
A third power-coercive strategy is recomposing or manipulating the
power elite -- electing people to public office, for instance, to
support an intended change. History is replete with mandates, and
other power- coercive strategies, that resulted in little change.
Charters and Jones (1973) waggishly label the attention to such
lack of results as an appraisal of non-events.
House's political perspective is grounded in concepts of power,
authority, and competing interests, with an image of negotiation.
Sashkin and Egermeier's fix-the-people approach to change focuses
on training and development of people, typically enacted as a top-
down directive from the state or district level. Although Sashkin
and Egermeier identify their fix-the-people approach primarily with
Chin and Benne's empirical-rational and House's technological orientations,
and secondarily on the normative-re-educative/cultural perspectives,
it is easy to see how the political orientation has been applied
historically to the fix-the-people (their attitudes, beliefs, values,
In the normative-re-educative approach, the individual is seen as
actively in search of satisfying needs and interests. The individual
does not passively accept what comes, but takes action to advance
his/her goals. Further, changes are not just rational responses
to new information but occur at the more personal level of values
and habits. Additionally, the individual is guided by social and
institutional norms. The overarching principle of this model is
that the individual must take part in his/her own (re-education)
change if it is to occur. The model includes direct intervention
by change agents, who focus on the client system and who work collaboratively
with the clients to identify and solve their problems.
Two strategies are germane to the normative-re-educative model.
First is to focus on improving the problem-solving capabilities
of the system; a second is to release and foster growth in the persons
who make up the system. There is no assumption that better technical
information can resolve the clients' problems; rather, the problems
are thought more likely to be within the attitudes, values, or norms
of various client-system relationships. The assumption of this model
is that people are capable and creative and, if obstructions are
removed, will rise to their highest potential. The model's strategies
are based on this potential that resides within people and their
system for change; thus it is not necessary that change be leveraged
from outside the system.
House's cultural perspective has an underlying image of community,
with shared meanings resting on shared values and people working
together. Sashkin and Egermeier's fix-the-school approach develops
the capacity of school organizations to solve their own problems.
The three descriptions resonate and are compatible.
Sashkin and Egermeier (1992) analyze the three approaches and
note that successful change has not yet been wholly achieved by
any of the first three methods. However, they state that examining
the limited success of those methods can contribute to the effectiveness
of the fourth and most recent approach, which they label "fix-the-
system," or restructuring. A reading of the paper reveals a factor
that consistently correlates with the limited successes in each
of the first three methods. That factor is the utilization of "interpersonal
contact between the [project] agent and the users" (p. 3). To examine
Sashkin and Egermeier's evidence in the fix-the-parts approach that
employs Chin and Benne's empirical-rational approach and House's
technological perspective, see Figure 3.
Figure 3: Early Studies of Change
| Pilot State Dissemination Project
Seiber et al. (1972) noted that "effective adoptions were
quite clearly related to interpersonal contact... [including]
needed information but [also] extensive technical assistance"
RAND Change Agent Study
McLaughlin (1989) cited strong leadership, high motivation
and involvement of teachers, and long-term support as what
worked in this study of four federally sponsored programs.
Project Innovation Packages
Horst et al. (1975) reported that teachers involved in the
Project Innovation Packages received packages but no other
information or assistance, resulting in generally negative
National Diffusion Network
Emrick & Peterson (1978) reported favorable results when
the new programs were accompanied by assistance and support,
connecting users with specific innovations.
Research and Development Utilization Program
Louis, Rosenblum, & Molitor (1981) indicated that "provision
of high quality information, technical assistance... can
be effective in promoting improvements in schools" (p. 5).
Experimental Schools Program
Doyle (1978) assessed that problems were underestimated
and "knowledge about facilitators of change is usually ignored
in this not laudably successful effort" (p. 5).
Individually Guided Education Program
Klausmeier (1990) stated that the program was "widely acclaimed
and used, until Federal support for professional development
and technical support activities was withdrawn" (p. 6).
Adapted from Sashkin & Egermeier, 1992
Sashkin and Egermeier conclude that, in a fix-the-parts approach,
the "more personal assistance and continuing support from a skilled
and knowledgeable local agent, the more likely that the innovation
will be used [for a] long duration" (p. 7). They add that "personal
support and expert assistance from a friendly outsider increases
the effectiveness of knowledge dissemination" (p. 8).
In the fix-the-people approach that links to House's political
perspective, the focus is on improving the knowledge and skills
of school staffs, thus enabling them to perform their roles. To
accomplish this goal, preservice training, inservice training, and
other staff development opportunities are mandated to support teacher
and administrator performance, and the adoption of innovations (Fullan,
1990). "Staff development can be seen as another way to provide
intensive personal support in the process of implementing an innovation"
(Sashkin & Egermeier, p. 8).
Approach 3, fix-the-school by increasing the school's problem-
solving capacity, emphasizes House's cultural perspective. This
approach typically uses "one or more highly skilled consultants
who help the organization learn" (Sashkin & Egermeier, p. 10). In
most school improvement models that exemplify this approach, school
teams "become their own consultants"; however, they receive "more
than the usual degree of personal attention from the trainer/change
agents" (p. 10). The long-term effects derived from use of such
school improvement models have resulted in some schools' achieving
their school improvement goals and gaining positive impact on student
Sashkin and Egermeier conclude that none of the three approaches
has achieved long-term success. But, in the first three approaches
(fix the parts, fix the people, fix the school), some success is
reported and, where positive gains are noted, a change agent, assistor,
or supporter is found. Sashkin and Egermeier's analysis allows the
reader to identify the facilitator as a correlate of (at least partially)
successful adoption, implementation, and/or change.
In recommending Approach 4, fix-the-system through comprehensive
restructuring, Sashkin and Egermeier encourage incorporating all
three of House's perspectives, with particular emphasis on cultural
change. They note that the three approaches in isolation are not
satisfactory, but they hypothesize, that in combination such an
approach "holds real promise for successful change in schools" (p.
14). They articulate the components of "comprehensive" restructuring,
none of which involves facilitation that will enable its implementation.
It is not clear whether their attention to staff development for
restructuring includes the personal interface dimension. No reference
is made to the agent's or facilitator's role that attends to the
individual's personal needs and that does appear in the discussions
of success of the first three approaches.
Reflecting About These Approaches to Change
It is clear that several of the theoretical perspectives of Chin
and Benne, House, and Sashkin and Egermeier are embraced by educators
at all levels today. Decision makers at the state, district, and
school levels readily accept the notion that "our people will adopt
and implement the change because it is good" (empirical-rational
approach). Highly placed policymakers mandate changes with the expectation
that the force of their office will result in changes in practice
(power-coercive approach). And yet reports of the conditions of
schooling reflect that little change -- in curriculum, instruction,
or structural arrangements, for example -- has occurred, despite
the increasing need to serve all children more effectively.
The normative-re-educative approach employs the help of change
agents to assist clients in the change process by identifying needs;
suggesting solutions, examining alternatives, and planning actions;
transforming intention into adoption; stabilizing the change. The
use of an agent to support clients and facilitate change was present
in the early models. The concept of change agent evolved further
and has been reported in studies of educational and other organizational
Emerging Attention to Facilitation
In the seventies, Havelock (1971) introduced the idea of "linkers,"
or the human interface, to connect new information and practice
with those who could use them. In this concept, "linkage is seen
as a series of two-way interaction processes which connect user
systems with various resource systems" (p. 11-4), and was studied
to identify its characteristics and effectiveness. Other studies
sought to understand better the linking and facilitating role of
the change agent.
The linkage role is concerned with establishing "communication networks
between sources of innovations and users via an intermediary facilitating
role either in the form of a linking agent or a linkage agency"
(emphasis added) (Paul, 1977, p. 26-27). Paul conceptualized five
components of the linkage role, Culbertson and Nash (1977) distinguished
linking agents from nonlinking agents, Lieberman (1977) identified
nine roles of linking agents, and Crandall (1977) delineated ten
functions for the linker. These writers, in their various ways,
agreed with Hood's characterizations of linking agent programs and
projects that resulted from his review of major linking agent studies
(1982). According to Hood, the programs and projects
- emphasized highly interpersonal forms of communication in order
to connect school staff with knowledge sources
- focused attention of educators on new practices, particularly
those resulting from research and development and practitioner-developed
and -validated practices, then assisted educators in the selection
and implementation of new practices appropriate to their needs
- provided technical assistance for defining problems, identifying
needs, selecting solutions, and planning for implementation and
evaluation of the solutions selected
- provided educators with new competencies and improved problem-solving
- provided feedback from educators to information resource producers,
trainers, R&D staff, and policy-makers.
It was assumed that users of new knowledge live in a system different
from those who create that knowledge and that the systems are incompatible.
Therefore, interaction must be achieved through sensitive linkage,
with the linking agent spanning the boundaries of the two systems
to bring about closer collaboration. Lipham (1977) suggested that
the school administrator could serve as linking agent, spanning
the boundaries and bringing resources from the larger environment
to the local school. In order to be prepared to exercise this role,
administrators would need competence in "educational change, program
knowledge, decision involvement, instructional leadership, and facilitative
environments" (p. 144) -- an early hint about the principal's role
as change facilitator.
Rand Change Agent Study.
The Rand Change Agent Study (Berman & McLaughlin, 1978) focused
its research on three stages of the change process: initiation,
or securing support; implementation, in which the proposed change
and the school are both changed in a process of "mutual adaptation";
and incorporation, the stage at which changes become a permanent
part of the system.
Successful implementation of projects in the Rand Study was characterized
by planning for adapting a change to the local setting. Teacher
participation in adapting materials to the needs of the local school
was a process characteristic. In addition, staff training was provided
to meet the needs of local school personnel. Finally, a critical
mass of innovators to provide support to one another and a receptive
institutional setting for the innovation were required for success.
Implementation outcomes depended on internal factors: organizational
climate, motivation of participants, the implementation strategy
used by the local leaders, and the scope of the change. The active
support of the principal was very important. When teachers perceived
that the principal liked a project and actively supported it, the
project fared well. "In general, the more supportive the principal
was perceived to be, the higher was the percentage of project goals
achieved, the greater the improvement in student performance, and
the more extensive the continuation of project methods and materials."
While the role of project directors in providing training for teachers
to acquire new behaviors was important, the involvement of the principal
in project training activities was a powerful element in the implementation
The elements of the implementation strategy that positively related
to institutionalization were teacher training that was specific,
concrete, and ongoing; and classroom consultation and advice from
resource personnel. Observing more-experienced teacher peers in
other classrooms provided opportunities for problem solving and
reinforcing new users. Project meetings that attended to practical
problems of project use, and sharing of suggestions had positive
effects. Teacher participation in decision making positively related
to effective implementation and continuation -- in this activity,
they "bought into" the project.
The Rand Study significantly expanded knowledge about factors
necessary for implementing and institutionalizing change, a part
of the process that had not been given much attention. These factors
- teacher participation in decision making and adaptation of
change to the local setting
- teacher and staff training
- a critical mass of teachers to support and motivate each other
- a receptive institutional setting/organizational climate
- the implementation strategy of local leaders, including consultation
from resource personnel
- scope of the change
- shared experiences of teachers with peers and attendance to
practical project problems
- the active support of the principal.
Dissemination Efforts Supporting
School Improvement (DESSI).
This study examined the role of external agents and assistance in
implementing federal- and state-supported programs. The study explored
program implementation in terms of the fidelity perspective or mutual
adaptation perspective -- that is, was the program implemented as
originally intended or had it evolved into new and different forms?
The study, reported by Crandall et al. (1982), confirmed teachers'
need for facilitation during change. Factors that contributed to
successful implementation were:
- carefully developed and well-defined curricular and instructional
- credible training
- teacher commitment
- ongoing assistance and support for teachers provided by district
staff, external trainers and linkers, and other teachers
- assistance and firm direction from administrators.
Concluding This Section
A number of studies in the seventies, as indicated, began to take
note of facilitation and implementation of change and clarified
the need for a person(s) to assume the facilitating leader role.
Studies in the eighties began to reveal more clearly the actions
supplied by change facilitators in a variety of positions -- for
example, external consultants, principals, teacher teams, and superintendents.
The next section explores and describes strategies of these facilitative