Social and Task Interdependencies in the Street-Level Implementation of Innovation

Spiro Maroulis, Uri Wilensky

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Scopus citations


    Organizations often adopt, though do not always successfully implement, innovations that require widespread frontline participation to realize their full benefits. To better understand the mechanisms that support or inhibit the implementation of such innovations, we apply constructs from organizational learning theory to the case of implementing innovation in schools, and operationalize those constructs in a computational, agent-based model. Model analysis reveals how the misalignment between an organization's social network and the task structure of its target innovation can impede frontline implementation, even when the individuals inside the organization have the skill and willingness to implement the innovation's constituent activities. We find that individual-level improvement before the decision to adopt the innovation can exacerbate this problem by reducing the utilization of tasks needed to support future implementation. We translate our insights into specific propositions about how the work required by the target innovation and an organization's social network relate to the level of frontline implementation in organizations.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)721-750
    Number of pages30
    JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Public Administration
    • Marketing


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