Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration
Dianne Gardner Renn
During a period of rapid social and technological change, academic Academic libraries and librarianship are experiencing a period of great change, or crisis, influenced by multiple factors including emerging technologies, declining budgets, and changing information. More than a transitory historical phase, these changes represents a fundamental transition between paradigms (Kuhn, 1962). Academic libraries and librarianship are moving from a paradigm focused on collections and books to a paradigm focused on learning. Within this context, innovations are new processes, services and products that facilitate this transition to the new paradigm.
Beyond this definitional work, the work serves as an exploration of the processes by which the members of, and groups within, academic library communities implement innovation. Relying on social movement theory, I maintain that innovation is a process of collective action. The three core elements of McAdam, McCarthy and Zald's (1996) synthesis of social movement theoryÂ¬Â¬ (framing contests, mobilizing structures, and political opportunity structures) are applied to academic libraries and librarianship. My adaptations of these elements form the basis of The Model of Academic Library Innovation. The Model also features leadership based in complexity theory.
The findings of this exploratory research are illustrated by examples from three libraries at which I conducted interviews and observed meetings and other activities. The adaptation of McAdam, McCarthy and Zald's (1996) synthesis suggests that innovation in academic libraries requires greater attention to the processes that bridge differences between individuals and groups. Whereas social movements focus on conflict between opposing perspectives, innovation stresses the need to welcome diverse ideas and to merge or integrate them in a productive manner. The strategic repertoire for innovation includes authentic participation, facilitation, informal shared learning, and outreach and collaboration. Additionally, innovation succeeds when external circumstances conspire to assist in its advancement. Leadership for innovation requires the ability to create the circumstances whereby the members of the organization can engage new ideas.
As preliminary conclusions, I suggest that the academic library community must act on the implications of viewing innovation as a form of collection action by focusing more attention on interpersonal and intergroup dynamics. Secondly, the magnitude of an innovation varies by library and institution. What is more important is assessing whether "innovation" facilitates the transition to a new library paradigm. The contextual nature of innovation implies that innovation is not about changing people, but about enabling them to use their skills and expertise to participate in shaping innovation. This is a perspective both radically humanistic and complex. Finally, this work points to the importance of developing organizational capacity to generate and integrate cognitive diversity. This requires deliberate efforts at organizational development, holistic approaches to staff development, and continual internal and external integration.
Ward, Dane Michael, "Innovation in Academic Libraries During a Time of Crisis" (2013). Theses and Dissertations. 35.