On the Value of Theories

While analyzing some interview data in the last year or so, my colleague and I discovered our coding was remarkably consistent with Roger’s (2003) theory of the diffusion of innovations. For me, this illustrated exactly why we spend time and energy conducting research, consuming research, and returning to the research when we are unsure of what to do.

Our original focus in the research was leadership, but we rediscovered the importance of innovation and change in the work of the leaders we studied. Scholars often speak and write about the fact that theories “predict and explain” observations. In our case, Roger’s theory explained what we observed: Leaders were attending to the factors that Rogers predicted when they were driving change in their schools.

codes applied to interviews and corresponding generalizations


Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed). New York: Free Press.