Leading for Innovation in Higher Education: A Design Narrative

WCER Working Paper No. 2023-1

Richard Halverson


February 2023, 30 pp.

ABSTRACT: This paper relates how leaders of a higher education program, the Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network, sparked and managed innovation across communities of scholarship, research, and practice. This paper uses a design narrative method to describe how leaders orchestrated organizational change by bringing diverse communities together into research–practice partnerships. The narrative uses the idea of boundary objects to describe how initiatives were progressively developed to create more inclusive spaces for sustained innovation. The insights and the capacity that resulted from initial design efforts created a richer space for subsequent initiatives. The paper shows how design narratives can illustrate the role that boundary objects can play in organizational change and concludes with a discussion of the role that leaders can play in creating inclusive cultures of innovation in higher education.

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keywords: higher education leadership, learning sciences, design narrative, boundary object, organizational change, research development