Rationalism vs. incrementalism: two opposing or complementary strategies for effecting change in HEI web development

Mike McConnell, Iain A. Middleton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The paper examines rationalist and incrementalist approaches for effecting change in website management. Planning is a traditionally rationalist activity that requires specific objectives and timescales to be set, resources to be allocated, and assumes that a desired future state is indeed definable and achievable. The paper argues that the web is too diverse and broad in scope to be addressed as a whole in purely rationalist terms: successful development requires the intelligent application of incrementalist measures. The authors examine a number of rationalist and incrementalist measures in use at two UK HEIs. One approach stimulates incremental buy‐in by encouraging departments to either adopt standards recommended by a central web management team, or by contracting the team for web development and maintenance. A second “rationalist” approach attempts to define the ideal future state, and then implement the requisite technologies and practices as a campus‐wide standard. The paper discusses the pros and cons of rationalist and incrementalist approaches, and the need for a balance between each in a successful web strategy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-67
    Number of pages7
    JournalVINE: The Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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