A MODEL OF INNOVATION AND RISK IN EDUCATIONAL DECISION MAKING
This study focused on the problem of organizational rigidity and conservatism in educational institutions. The tendency for these organizations to resist change can lead to their decline and ultimate death because innovation and renewal is vital to meet and keep pace with the rate of change in the environment. The purpose of the study was to devise a model of group decision making which would tend to facilitate innovation to a greater extent than any alternative model. Model development was undertaken via study of group-induced shift toward risk. This phenomenon of group members preferring more risky decisions than they had advocated as individuals has been noted consistently in the experimental situation and in some true-to-life settings, but in other real risk contexts, the risky shift has not occurred. To examine the issue of maintenance of the shift toward risk in the real risk situation as opposed to hypothetical choice dilemmas, shift index scores of a group of 28 senior dental hygiene students involved in a graded National Board Dental Hygiene Exam task were contrasted with those of a group of 30 junior dental hygiene students involved in the same task merely as an inclass activity. The relevant hypothesis states that there will not be a significant difference in the risky shift exhibited in the graded, high risk situation as opposed to the nongraded, low risk situation. This hypothesis of no difference was rejected to the .01 level. The seniors shifted toward risk to a significantly greater extent than did the juniors. Therefore, the risky shift was not maintained in the real risk situation; rather it was increased. A correlational study was also undertaken to examine the relationship between risk taking, attitude toward innovation, and leadership style as respectively measured by the Kogan Wallach Choice Dilemmas, the Educational Innovation Attitude Scale, and the Least Preferred Coworker. The subjects of the correlational study were 52 dental hygiene educational administrators. The hypotheses that risk taking would be significantly and positively correlated with both open attitude toward innovation and task-oriented leadership did not receive support. A final study, utilizing the same group of dental hygiene educational administrators as subjects examined the effects of three independent variables of leader's style, riskiness of group leader, and decision making condition on the dependent variable of group shift toward risk relative to the Kogan and Wallach Choice Dilemmas. These administrators were randomly divided and assigned to one of twelve group leaders who varied according to leadership style as measured by the Least Preferred Coworker and risk taking as measured by the Kogan and Wallach Choice Dilemmas. After all groups were formed, the four members met for one hour to provide a posttest decision on the Kogan and Wallach Choice Dilemmas via one of three decision making conditions as follows: leader-initiated discussion to consensus, leader decision based upon group discussion, and individual decision. It has hypothesized that the groups led by individuals who scored below the total group mean on the Least Preferred Coworker and Choice Dilemmas would advocate riskier postexperimental preferences on the Choice Dilemmas than groups led by individuals who score above the total group mean on these instruments. Significant interactions were also hypothesized between the decision-making condition and the other two independent variables. These hypotheses were not supported by the results of the study. Upon examination of the data from the entire dissertation study it was concluded that group-induced shift toward risk does exist in the real risk situation. The relation between riskiness, innovation, and leadership style requires further investigation as does the effect of leadership style, leader riskiness, and decision making condition on risky shift.
VIRGINIA MARY GORAL,
"A MODEL OF INNOVATION AND RISK IN EDUCATIONAL DECISION MAKING"
(January 1, 1980).
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