A Model of Organizational Innovation: A Case Study of Penn State's World Campus

Concurrent Session 2
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Brief Abstract

As a case study, Penn State's World Campus is used to examine Amabile (1988)'s Model of Organizational Innovation in the context of online education


Maeghen is currently a doctoral student at Penn State University in pursuit of her PhD in Higher Education with a minor in Adult Education. During her doctoral studies she will be focusing on student success and online education. Maeghen is also pursuing graduate certificates in the fields of Institutional Research and Distance Education during her time at PSU. Outside of her studies, Maeghen is the graduate assistant for the Center of Online Innovations in Learning at PSU as well as Co-Chairing the archiving and narrating the history of Penn State's World Campus with Executive Director Emeritus Gary Miller and Vice President for Outreach/Vice Provost for Online Education Craig Weidemann. Maeghen has previously served as Assistant Dean for the College of Professional Studies at Alfred University and worked in Corporate Development at Tutor.com. Maeghen holds a Master of Business Administration in Executive Management from St. John's University, and a dual Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Political Science with minors in Criminal Justice, Marketing, and Public Law from Alfred University.

Extended Abstract

As a case study, Penn State's World Campus is used to examine Amabile (1988)'s Model of Organizational Innovation in the context of online education. The Pennsylvania State University opened its 25th campus in January of 1998 with 44 students and five programs operating entirely online as a virtual campus. The World Campus from initiation was fully integrated into the mainstream of the University's academic life as a part of an institution-wide web of innovation (Ryan & Miller, 2000). The creation of this virtual campus moved distance education into "the mainstream of higher education" and positioned Penn State as a major comprehensive university dedicated to the lifelong learner (Ryan & Miller, 2000). Today, World Campus offers over 40 undergraduate degrees, minors, and certificates with over 60 master degrees and certificates and is the leader in online education recently ranked #1 best online bachelor degrees by U.S. News and World Report (Penn State, 2015). The creation of World Campus is one of the most successful examples of organizational innovation in higher education. This study and presentation seeks to align the milestones of the World Campus with aspects of Amabile's model.

Disruptive Innovation
Disruptive innovation occurs when the market is disrupted by the introduction of a product or service that is not as good as the best traditional offerings (Christensen & Eyring, 2011). However, this product or service is more affordable or easier to use but improves overtime with its own innovations to match or exceed the competition's quality (Christensen & Eyring, 2011). It is noted that a university pursuing innovation, such as online learning, must be informed by their self-awareness and history as well as continuing to fully utilize their full-time professors and physical campuses in order to avoid any liabilities in pursuit of technological disruption (Christensen & Eyring, 2011). Penn State has been considered a pioneer in distance education since 1892 as it one was one of three American universities that offered collegiate-level correspondence study (Ryan & Miller, 2000). In 1992, a University-wide task force recommended that the distance education function be moved in to the mainstream of the University's academic life as an evaluation of society's needs (Ryan & Miller, 2000). By 1996, the University's Distance Education Advisory Board had made great progress by revising the residency requirement for professional master's degrees to be achieved remotely as well as producing a "Programmatic Vision for Distance Education" report that emphasized innovation in teaching (Ryan & Miller, 2000). The University was positioned for a major transformative process that would position Penn State to be a leader in the integration of teaching, service, and research to better serve the students of the 21st century (Ryan & Miller, 2000).

Amabile's Model of Organizational Innovation
This transformative process through this study is aligned with Amabile's Model of Organization Innovation. This model includes the influence of an individual on the organization and the organization on individuals to be inspired and motivated to create change (Amabile, 1988). Amabile (1988) found that there are five stages in the organizational innovation process including setting the agenda, setting the stage, producing the ideas, testing and implementing the ideas, and outcome assessment. In relationship with the stages, there are three main influential components of impacting success of the innovation attempt: the resources of the task domain, skills in innovation management, and the intersection of creativity (Amabile,1988).
When considering the World Campus as the case study in this model, an emphasis will be placed on the organizational culture with a shared governance structure providing intrinsic motivation to its employees. As World Campus has moved through this model in its entirety, it provides insights and practices that may be beneficial to other institutions or practitioners seeking to implement innovation.

Presentation Goals:
ï Inform attendees of Amabile's 1988 Model of Organizational Innovation
ï Share insights and lessons from the World Campus moving through the five stages of the Innovation Model
ï Provide attendees best practices for implementing change at their home institution or organization

Amabile, T. M. (1988). A model of creativity and innovation in organizations. Research in organizational behavior, 10(1), 123-167.
Christensen, C. & Eyring, H. (2011). The innovative university: Changing the DNA of higher education from the inside out. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Penn State University (November 30, 2015). Mission and Character. Retrieved from: http://www.psu.edu/this-is-penn-state/leadership-and-mission/mission-and...
Ryan, J. & Miller, G. (2000). Penn State's World Campus: Mainstreaming a Virtual Campus Initiative. In Petrides, L. (Ed.), Case Studies on Information Technology in Higher Education: Implications for Policy and Practice. (pp. 20-33). Hershey, PA: Idea Group.