ERIC Number: ED209765
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-May
Reference Count: 0
Policy Analysis in Education: The Case for Incrementalism.
Helms, Lelia B.
Executive Review, v1 n6 May 1981
Policy analysts approach problems of decision-making from two distinct perspectives: rational-comprehensive and incremental. This paper examines the theory behind both perspectives and argues that incrementalism may be a more appropriate strategy for applied decision-making in education. In considering the appropriateness of applying incrementalism to a specific situation, the following environmental characteristics must be assessed: threshold on critical mass effects, structural decomposability, sleeper effects, and the issue attention cycle. In addition, the organizational characteristics of redundancy of resources, distribution of power, and maturity of the organization must be evaluated. Educational organizations are precluded from disruptive shifts in policy and thus are characterized by an incremental, additive approach to policy. Rationalization of educational policy in the United States is made difficult by the decentralized character of the system, the jealously guarded prerogative of local control, the predominance of short-term issues, and sudden swings in public demands. All of these conditions seem to call for incrementalism. Other characteristics showing a predisposition for incrementalism are abundance of resources (found in the redundancy in organization at the local and state levels), the availability of a bargaining arena, and organizational maturity. (Author/WD)
Descriptors: Centralization, Decentralization, Decision Making, Educational Policy, Educational Resources, Elementary Secondary Education, Organizational Change, Organizational Climate, Organizational Theories, Participation, Policy Formation, Postsecondary Education, Public Opinion, Redundancy
Institute for School Executives, University of Iowa, 210 Lindquist Center, Iowa City, IA 52242 ($1.00).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Collected Works - Serials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Iowa Univ., Iowa City. Inst. for School Executives.
Identifiers: Incrementalism (Decision Making); Rationalization (Decision Making)