Overcoming “status quo bias” – a call for innovative action

Posted on November 6, 2013 by

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The first featured article from the latest ANS issue focusing on “Innovations in Health Care Delivery” is the guest Editorial by Paula N. Kagan, PhD, RN.  Dr. Kagan’s scholarship is grounded in critical/emancipatory feminist perspectives, and she is the primary Editor of the forthcoming (2014) text  Philosophies and Practices of Emancipatory Nursing: Social Justice as Praxis. Routledge Publishers. Dr. Kagan shared this message about her work, concluding with a call for action:

I have been interested in the idea of innovation for many years. I am attracted to radical change in areas such as the arts as well as nursing practice, in pedagogy, in ethics and policy approaches, and at various other points of social thought and practices. However, there is a horizon of embracing radicalism, a threshold at which there can be comfort in ambiguity and in difference and in creating drastic change. Think resistance. We do not have to stay attracted and attached to the status quo to the exclusion of real change. But how often that occurs.

Paula N Kagan, PhD,RN

Paula N Kagan, PhD,RN

During this election week, the astute Chris Hayes on MSNBC spoke about status quo bias, the human behavior characteristic that moves people to, at times irrationally, chose the status quo over options of change, some of which may be better choices than what constitutes the present circumstance. He was referring to status quo bias in decision-making, an effect demonstrated by Samuelson and Zeckhauser (1988) and applied to many fields of study.

I am perplexed at organizations that chronically spend time on improvement measures but in the end stay within the boundaries of tradition. I am perplexed at our unrelenting focus on acute care and hospital nursing. And, I am perplexed at nurse educators who prepare students to uncritically meet the status quo. We are not serving our students or the public.

Perhaps nurses can begin meetings, at any level of organization, with a consideration of the phenomena of status quo bias, resistance, and the practice of radicalism and make sure these concepts are included as ‘essential’ in the content of study for students (as well as in the practice of faculty and professional leaders) in nursing. Would that make a difference in our criticality, in our ideas of what constitutes innovation and progression?

You can read the full text of Dr. Kagan’s Editorial and download your copy on the ANS web site.  We would be delighted to engage with you here on this blog!  Leave your comments, ideas and questions here, and we will respond.