Elements of Diffusion
―To get the bad customs of a country changed and new ones, though better, introduced, it is
necessary first to remove the prejudices of the people, enlighten their ignorance, and convince
them that their interests will be promoted by the proposed changes; and this is not the work of a
day‖ Benjamin Franklin (1781)
―There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to
manage than the creation of a new order of things… whenever his enemies have occasion to
attack the innovator they do so with the passion of partisans, while the others defend him
sluggishly so that innovator and his party alike are vulnerable‖ NiccoloMachiavelle The Prince
Water Boiling in a Peruvian Village: A Diffusion Campaign that Failed
Water boiling is an important health practice for the villagers; here writer took the example of
remote coastal region of Peru, Los Molinos. The two-year water boiling campaign in Los
Molinos failed due to their cultural beliefs, though Nelida, the campaigner did her best to
improve villagers health and habitual improvements. In every kind of diffusion of innovation,
the adapters are first somehow forced with some reasons but continuation and playing leading
role of early adopter to the rest is important. In this example author conclude the reason behind
failure of water boiler case to ―failure to demonstrate the interpersonal network in the adoption
of innovation‖. Another reason of failure of this innovation was, it is perceived as culturally
inappropriate for their beliefs. Local tradition links hot foods with illness and conception of
boiling water is to make less "cold," which is only for the sick people. If a person is not ill, by
social norms of village he is not allowed to drink boiled (less cold) water. And the past
experience of people who doesn’t want to bear any uncertain threats but the important point here
is heterophilies to the community. Because the adopter of this water boiling case, Mrs. A adopted
the innovation because she is sick and Mrs. B is migrated to the village though she convinced to
adopt new idea, innovation which helps them to avoid the uncertain threat are not applicable to
We see the diffusion of innovation is a social process, even more than a technical matter which
needs the participants to engrave their willingness to adopt according to their social norms. But
the campaigner is more technological innovation oriented than her client oriented
communication strategies which leaded to failure experience. As a result the rate of adoption of
the innovation did not reach a critical mass after which the diffusion process would have become
Diffusion is the process in which an innovation is well accepted communication channels by the
adopters over time among the members of a social system. The well accepted communication
channels which should concerned with the new innovative idea which does not violate social
norms and beliefs of the target group. In diffusion, communication is a process in which
participants create and share information with one another in order to reach the mutual
understanding which plays a vital role in diffusion process. This new idea diffuses with its
special character and social norms where social change, defined as the process by which
alteration occurs in the structure and function of a social system with social risk and uncertainty.
Because of the uncertainty, the innovation might be adopted or rejected, leading to certain
consequences, so to tackle those kinds of uncertainty,two-way communication process should be
used to share and mitigate the uncertainty that might arise during the adaptation of new ideas.
Controlling Scurvy in the British Navy
Again the point here is screwed up in the communication channels to implement in time to
diffuse innovative idea to cure the scurvy. Though the citrus juice during the voyage was the
ultimate idea at the mean time to save navy from scurvy but due to lack of proper
communication channels it took almost 150 years since its first use to wipe out the scurvy. In this
example, we can see that the innovator failed to convince early adopter that his innovation is
useful (lack of opinion leadership).
Non diffusion of the Dvorak Keyboard
Every invention has strength and weakness to replace the earlier invention of same kind. Here we
have two kind of keyboard one is already well diffused, and another is late comer. Even though
the late comer has potential and efficiency than earlier, might fail due to lack of proper
communication channel to diffuse. The problem is a) QWERTY keyboard already manufactured
and deployed to possible interfaces at the mean time b) adopters are familiar with it c) limited
vendors who do not want to take risk on new prototype, so in some cases vested interest of
stakeholders play the vital role in diffusing the innovation.
Message ― the technological innovation are not always diffused and adopted rapidly, even when
the innovation has obvious advantages‖
Four Main Elements in the Diffusion of Innovations
1) Innovation: An innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an
individual or other unit of adoption where Innovation and technology are used synonyms.
Every new idea may not be an innovative idea. Someone may have known about and
innovation for some time but not yet developed a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward it
nor have adopted or rejected it so newness of an innovation may be expressed in terms of
knowledge, persuasion, or decision to adopt.Same innovation may be desirable for one
adopter in one situation but undesirable for another potential adopter whose situation differs.
So many researches has been accomplished by scholars addressing a) how early adopters
differ from later adopters of an innovation b) how the perceived attributes of an innovation
such as its relative advantage, compatibility affects the rate of adoption c) why the S-shaped
curve takes off at about 10-20% or adoption.
Technological innovations, information, anduncertainty:
A technology is a design for instrumental action that reduces the uncertainty in the cause-effect
relationships involved in achieving a desired outcome.‖ (Everett, 2003, p. 13) Its two
components are hardware, the physical tool, and software, the knowledge base to run the tool.
This knowledge base tool composed of hardware and software reduces uncertainty of the new
innovation sharing information of cause-effect relationship on which the technology is based.
Thus technology innovation decision process is essentially an information seeking and
information processing activity in which an individual is motivated to reduce about the
advantages and disadvantages of the innovation.
Distinguish between the two kinds of information that we have been discussing in respect to a
a) Software information, which is embodied in a technology and serves to reduce
uncertainty about the cause-effect relationships involved in achieving a desired outcome.
b) Innovation-evaluation information, which is the reduction in uncertainty about an
innovation's expected consequences.
Characteristics of innovations
a) Relative advantage: The degree of relative advantage may be measured in economic
termsincluding social-prestige factors, convenience, and satisfactions are also often
important components but it does not matter whether innovation has objective advantages.
b) Compatibility is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with
the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters. An idea that is not
compatible with the values and norms of social system will not be adopted as rapidly than
which compatible to social norms and beliefs
c) Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand
and use. New ideas that are simple to understand are adopted more rapidly than
innovations that are require adopter to develop new skills to understand.
d) Trialability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited
basis. News ideas that can be tried on the installment plan will generally be adopted more
quickly than innovations that are not divisible. Innovation that is trialable represents less
uncertainty to the individual who is considering it for adoption, as it is possible to learn
e) Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to
others.More easier to see the visible result of an innovation, more likely they are to adopt.
2) Communication Channels
Diffusion is a particular type of communicationin which the information that is exchanged is
concerned with new ideas. The essence of the diffusion process is the information exchange by
which one individual communicates a new idea to one or several others.
Interpersonal channels are more effective in persuading an individual to adopt a new idea,
especially if the interpersonal channel links two or more individuals who are near-peers.
Interpersonal channels involve a face-to-face exchange between two or more individuals.
Mass media plays important role to most rapid and efficient means of informing an audience and
potential adopters about the existence of innovators and also it reduces uncertainty for the
At its most elementary form, the process involves:
a) An innovation,
b) An individual or other unit of adoption that has knowledge of, or experience with using,
c) Another individual or other unit that does not yet have knowledge of the innovation,
d) A communication channel connecting the two units.
Heterophily and diffusion
More effective communication occurs when two individuals are homophilous (like minded
cliques), the proposition about effective communication and homophily can also be reversed:
effective communication between two individuals leads to greater homophily in knowledge,
beliefs, and overt behavior.
One of the most distinctive problems in the communication of innovations is that the participants
are usually quite heterophilous
3) Over time
Time is an important element in the diffusion process. In fact, most other behavioral science
research is timeless in the sense that the time dimension is simply ignored. Time is an obvious
aspect of any communication process, but most (nondiffusion) communication research does not
deal with it explicitly.
The time dimension is involved in diffusion
a) In the innovation decision process by which an individual passes from first knowledge of
b) In an innovation's rate of adoption in a system, usually measured as the number of members
of the system that adopt the innovation in a given time period.
The inclusion of time as a variable in diffusion research is one of its strengths, but the
measurement of the time dimension (often by means of respondents' recall) can be criticized (as
we point out in Chapter 3). The time dimension is involved in diffusion (1) in the innovation
decision process by which an individual passes from first knowledge of an innovation through its
adoption or rejection, (2) in the innovativeness of an individual or other unit of adoption—that is,
the relative earliness/lateness with which an innovation is adopted—compared with other
members of a system, and (3) in an innovation's rate of adoption in a system, usually measured
as the number of members of the system that adopt the innovation in a given time period.
The innovation-decision process
a) The innovation-decision process is the process through which an individual (or other
decision-making unit) passes an innovation through its adoption or rejection,
b) In the innovativeness of an individual or other unit of adoption—that is, therelative
earliness/lateness with which an innovation is adopted—comparedwith other members of a
system, and from first knowledge of an innovation to forming an attitude toward the
innovation, to a decision to adopt or reject, to implementation of the new idea, and to
confirmation of this decision.
Five main steps in the process:
a) Knowledge occurs when an individual (or other decision-making unit) is exposed to the
innovation's existence and gains some understanding of how it functions
b) Persuasion occurs when an individual (or other decision-making unit) forms a favorable or
unfavorable attitude toward the innovation
c) Decision occurs when an individual (or other decision-making unit) engages in activities that
lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation.
d) Implementation occurs when an individual (or other decision-making unit) puts an
innovation into use. Re-invention is especially likely to occur at the implementation stage
e) Confirmation occurs when an individual (or other decision-making unit) seeks reinforcement
of an innovation decision that has already been made, but he or she may reverse this previous
decision if exposed to conflicting messages about the innovation.
The innovation-decision process involves time in the sense that the five steps usually occur in a
time-ordered sequence of knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and
confirmation.The measure of innovativeness and the classification of the system's members into
adopter categories are based upon the relative time at which an innovation is adopted.
Adopter categories are classified among the members of a social system on the basis of
innovativeness and their tendency to adopt. The five adopter categories are:
a) Innovators are active information seekers about new ideas and they use their high degree
of mass media exposure and interpersonal networks extended over wide area to reach
targeted mass by bearing high degree of uncertainty.
b) Early adopters are opinion leaders and play the leadership roles, and embrace change
opportunities, aware of the need to change so they do not need information to convince
them to change
c) Early majority are rarely leaders, but they do adopt new ideas before the average person
but they need to see evidence that the innovation works before they are willing to adopt it.
d) Late majority: are skeptical of change, and will only adopt an innovation after it has been
tried by the majority.
e) Laggards are bound by tradition and very conservative and are hardliner of their tradition
which they belief.
First, only a few individuals adopt the innovation in each time period (such as a year or a month,
for example); these are the innovators. But soon the diffusion curve begins to climb, as more and
more individuals adopt. Then the trajectory of the rate of adoption begins to level off, as fewer
and fewer individuals remain who have not yet adopted. Finally, the s-shaped curve reaches its
asymptote, and the diffusion process is finished.
The rate of adoption is usually measured by the length of time required for a certain percentage
of the members of a system to adopt an innovation. Innovations that are perceived by individuals
as possessing greater relative advantage, compatibility, and the like, have a more rapid rate of
4) Socialsystem: defined as a set of interrelated units that are engaged in joint problem solving
to accomplish a common goal. The members of social system may be units of a social system
may be individuals, informal groups, organizations, and/or subsystems.
It is important to remember that diffusion occurs within a social system, because the social
structure of the system affects the innovation's diffusion in several ways
Social structure and diffusion
a) Structure as the patterned arrangements of the units in a system. This structure gives
regularity and stability to human behavior in a social system; it allows one to predict
behavior with some degree of accuracy. Thus, structure represents one type of
information in that it decreases uncertainty
b) There is an informal type of structure that exists in the interpersonal networks linking a
system's members, determining who interacts with whom and under what circumstances.
c) Communication structure as the differentiated elements that can be recognized in the
patterned communication flows in a system.
Katz (1961) remarked, "It is as unthinkable to study diffusion without some knowledge of the
social structures in which potential adopters are located as it is to study blood circulation without
adequate knowledge of the structure of veins and arteries‖
System norms and diffusion
Norms are the established behavior patterns for the members of a social system. They define a
range of tolerable behavior and serve as a guide or a standard for the members of a social system.
A system's norms can be a barrier to change,
Opinion leaders and change agents: Opinion leadership is earned and maintained by the
individual's technical competence, social accessibility, and conformity to the system's norms
When opinion leaders are compared with their followers, we find that they (1) are more exposed
to all forms of external communication, (2) are more cosmopolite, (3) have somewhat higher
social status, and (4) are more innovative (although the exact degree of innovativeness depends,
in part, on the system's norms).
They are at the center of interpersonal communication networks
Innovations can be adopted or rejected (1) by individual members of a system, or (2) by the
entire social system, which can decide to adopt an innovation by a collective or an authority
a) Optional innovation-decisions are choices to adopt or reject an innovation that are made
by an individual independent of the decisions of other members of the system
b) Collective innovation-decisions are choices to adopt or reject an innovation that are made
by consensus among the members of aSystem.
c) Authority innovation-decisions are choices to adopt or reject an innovation that are made
by a relatively few individuals in a system who possess power, status, or technical
the fastest rate of adoption of innovations results from authority decisions (depending,
of course, on how innovative the authorities are). Optional decisions can usually be made
more rapidly than collective decisions. Although made more rapidly, authority decisions
are often circumvented during their implementation.
d) Contingent innovation-decisions are choices to adopt or reject that can be made only after
a prior innovation-decision. Individual member of a social system may be free to adopt or
not to adopt a new idea only after his system's innovation-decision
Consequences of innovations
Consequences are the changes that occur to an individual or to a social system as a result of the
adoption or rejection of an innovation. There are at least three classifications of consequences:
a) Desirable versus undesirable consequences, depending on whether the effects of an
innovation in a social system are functional or dysfunctional.
b) Direct versus indirect consequences, depending on whether the changes to an individual
or to a social system occur in immediate response to an innovation or as a second-order
result of the direct consequences of an innovation
c) Anticipated versus unanticipated consequences, depending on whether the changes are
recognized and intended by the members of a social system or not
Diffusion of Hybrid Corn in Iowa
The innovation of hybrid corn was one of the most important farm technologies released to Iowa
and it increased their farm productivity. It was drought-resistant and better suited to harvesting
with mechanical corn pickers but the problem was farmer had to buy hybrid seeds every year.
Previously farmers had saved their own seed, selected from their best looking corn plants but the
adoption of hybrid corn meant that a farmer had to make important changes in their behavior.
The increase in productivity with hybrid technology replaced the open pollination seeds moving
typical farmers from awareness-knowledge of innovation to adoption. The researchers involved
in this research had applied all the diffusion process and noted their adoption rate into graph
which looked like S-shape.
Diffusion processes in this example is a successful innovation diffusion process where they had
studied in many disciplines such as anthropology, marketing, rural sociology and
communications science. In this example the innovator applied all diffusion process very well
and used the proper communication channels where we saw remarkable role of adopter and early
majority. The initial adoption of an innovation is made by innovators, then early adopters, early
majority, late majority and finally laggards also clearly see in this innovation diffusion.
History of Diffusion Research
Gabriel Tarde and The Laws of Imitation
―to learn why, given one hundred different innovations conceived of at the same time—
innovations in the form of words, in "mythological ideas, in industrial processes, etc.—ten will
spread abroad while ninety will be forgotten."
Tarde identified the adoption or rejection of innovations as a crucial research question. He
observed that the rate of adoption of a new idea usually followed an s-shaped curve over time. At
first, only a few individuals adopt a new idea, then the rate of adoption spurts as a large number
of individuals accept the innovation, and finally the adoption rate slackens.
Diffusion network thinking was involved in Tarde's explanation of the s-curve, even though he
did not use such present-day concepts of networks, homophily, and heterophily. For example,
Tarde (1969, pp. 29-30) observed that an innovation is first adopted by an individual who is
socially closest to the source of the new idea, and that it then spreads gradually from higher-
status to lower-status individuals.
Perhaps social scientists of Tarde's daylacked the methodological tools to mount diffusion
studies; maybethey were just not inclined to follow up on his leads. In any event, hissuggested
approach to diffusion research lay fallow for several decades,until an invisible college of
American scholars was to coalescearound Tarde's "laws of imitation."
The British and German-Austrian Diffusionists
Diffusionism was the point of view in anthropology that explained change in a given society as a
result of the introduction of innovations from another society. The diffusionists claimed that all
innovations spread from one original source, which, of course, argued against the existence of
The anthropological diffusion researchers constitute the oldest of the nine diffusion research
Shall trace the intellectual ancestry of each of these nine traditions, as they help us to understand
the history of diffusion research. Each research tradition consists of an academic discipline (for
example, anthropology, marketing, geography) or a subdiscipline (for instance, early sociology,
rural sociology, medical sociology
Diffusion Research Tradition
Most anthropologists are taught by their mentors to distrust numbers as a basis for describing and
analyzing social behavior. The quantitative approach, based as it necessarily is on a social
scientist learning'' a little about a lot," is anathema to the anthropologist who strongly prefers to
learn "a lot about a little".
This capacity of anthropologists to understand the total culture oftheir individuals of study,
coupled with their over-time data gathering,provides the anthropological diffusion scholars with
a uniquemeans of understanding the consequences of innovation
Compared to other research traditions, anthropology has been more concerned with the transfer
of technological innovations from one society to another (as compared to the diffusion of a new
idea within a society or system).
b) Early sociology :
The motivating interest of the early sociologists was primarily in the diffusion of innovations that
contributed to social change.
The ten studies in the early sociology diffusion tradition differed from their anthropological
counterparts in that they used quantitative data analysis, a methodological approach that was to
be followed by other research traditions. But the intellectual paradigm that was to set off
widespread research on the diffusion of innovations had not yet happened. Creation of this
paradigm had to wait for the rural sociology tradition.
c) Rural sociology:
The research tradition that can claim major credit for initially forming the intellectual paradigm
for diffusion research, and that has produced the largest number of diffusion studies and over the
longest period of years, is rural sociology.
Most rural sociologists are employed by land-grant universities in colleges of agriculture. These
agriculture schools have three main functions: (1) to teach students, (2) to conduct research on
agricultural problems, so as to help farmers and agricultural businesses, and (3) to operate a state
extension service to diffuse the agricultural innovations (coming from research) to potential
adopters, mainly farmers.
Hybrid Corn Study
d) Education: education is less important in terms of its contribution to the theoretical
understanding of the diffusion of innovations. Public health and medical sociology
In case of diffusion of Kindergartens, it took fifty years (from 1900 to 1950) to reach complete
adoption by U.S. schools (Mort, 1953). But driver training needed only eighteen years (from
1935 to 1953) to reach widespread adoption (Allen, 1956), and modern math took only the five
years from 1958 to 1963 (Carlson, 1965).
Driver training and modern math were heavily promoted by change agencies: insurance
companies and auto manufacturers in the case of driver training, and the National Science
Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education in the case of modern math.
Then the field of communication research, organized especially around studying the effects of
mass communication. The researcher focused their political science, sociology, social
psychology, and other social science fields to communication based research on it.One of the
early concerns of communication researchers was the diffusion of news events carried by the
mass media but later on researchers also began to investigate the transmission of technological
ideas, especially agricultural, health, educational, and family-planning innovations in developing
nations. The use of technology driven mass media has remarkable role to diffuse innovation (as
an example 68 percent of the U.S. adult public was aware of the events in Dallas within thirty
minutes of the shot that felled the president. Soon thereafter, almost everyone knew of this
Marketing holds one of the vital stakes in innovation diffusion with extensive strategies to attract
potential adopters by the marketing managers to launch new products most efficiently. Some of
the researchers are focused on the efficient marketing strategies to diffuse the new product and
this topic is sparked by the regular launching of large numbers of new consumer products.
A large proportion of these diffusion research reports, however, are found only in the secret files
of the sponsoring companies. Unfortunately, the funding of marketing diffusion studies by
private sources, who wish to use the results to gain a competitive advantage, leads to restrictions
on scholarly access to the intellectual lessons learned from these studies in the marketing
This literature emphasized the test marketing of new products, identifying markets for new
products, strategic planning for diffusion, and studies of how the perceived attributes of an
innovation affect its purchase
As the marketing term is narrowly construed as synonymous with manipulating human
purchasing behavior for commercial advantage, which means the marketing campaigner only
focus their marketing of new product where the potential adopters are available according to
their market survey.
Hagerstrand's model contained, as one of its elements, the "neighborhood effect," which
expressed the tendency for an innovation to be more likely to spread from an adopter to another
adopter (in the next unit of time) who was close by, rather than far away
h) General sociology
The general sociology tradition of diffusion research is a somewhat residual category, consisting
of all other diffusion studies not included in early sociology, rural sociology, and medical
Typology of Diffusion Research
a) Earliness of knowing about innovations:
b) Rate of adoption of different innovations in a social system
d) Opinion leadership
e) Who interacts with whom.
f) Rate of adoption in different social systems
g) Communication channel usage.
h) Consequences of innovation.
Contributions and criticisms of diffusion research
This chapter discusses about the criticisms and shortcomings of diffusion research carried over
the time and point out directions for future amelioration of current weaknesses of diffusion
We discuss such issues as: what are the assumptions and biases of diffusion research, and how
has acceptance of the classical diffusion model limited the originality and appropriateness of the
work of diffusion researchers? Only during the 1970s did a few observers begin to raise
criticisms about diffusion.
The Contributions and Status of Diffusion Research Today
The results of diffusion research have been incorporated in basic textbooks in social psychology,
communication, public relations, advertising, marketing, consumer behavior, rural sociology,
and other fields
Many U.S. government agencies have a division devoted to diffusing technological
innovations to the public or to local governments; U.S. Department of Transportation, the
National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of
Diffusion of innovation has the status of a bastard child with respect to the parent interests in
social and cultural change: Too big to ignore but unlikely to be given full recognition
This popularity is not surprising. The investigations by innovation research of the salient
behavior of individuals, organizations, and political parties can have significant social
consequences. [These studies] imbue even the most obscure piece of research with
generalizability that has become rare as social science becomes increasingly specialized"
What is the appeal and why has so much diffusion literature been produced?
: analyzing the pattern of social, technological change, foreground scientific research,
study of degree of diffusion, study of human behavior of new innovation, need to reduce the
: The apparent pragmatic appeal of diffusion research in solving problems of research
utilization is high
The diffusion approach seems to promise a means to provide solutions
: to individuals and/or organizationswho have invested in research on some topic and
seek toget it utilized, and/or
those who desire to use the research results ofothers to solve a particular social problem
or fulfill a need.
The diffusion paradigm allows scholars to repackage their empirical findings in the form of
higher-level generalizations of a more theoretical nature.
:Without the diffusion model, this huge body of completed research would just be "a mile
wide and an inch deep."
The research methodology implied by the classical diffusion model is clear-cut and relatively
facile. The data are not especially difficult to gather; the methods of data analysis are well laid
out. Diffusion scholars have focused especially on characteristics related to individual
innovativeness through cross-sectional analysis of survey data.
==>methodologicallystraightforware and lack of theoretical evidence
Criticisms of Diffusion Research
The prejudice of [research] training is always a certain 'trained incapacity': the more we know
about how to do something, the harder it is to learn to do it differently" such ―Trained
incapacity" is, to a certain extent, necessary; without it, a scientist could not cope with the vast
uncertainties of the research process in his field. Every research worker, and every field of
science, has many blind spots.
The Pro-Innovation Bias of Diffusion Research
The pro-innovation bias is the implication of most diffusion research that an innovation should
be diffused and adopted by all members of a social system, that it should be diffused more
rapidly, and that the innovation should be neither re-invented nor rejected ===> Seldom is the
pro-innovation bias straightforwardly stated in diffusion publications. Rather, the bias is assumed
and implied. Makes it especially troublesome and potentially dangerous in an intellectual sense
most other innovations that have been studied do not havethis extremely high degree of
The act of innovating is still heavily laden with positive value. Innovativeness, like efficiency,
is a characteristic we want social organisms to possess.
What causes the pro-innovation bias in diffusion research?
Much diffusion research is funded by change agencies
Successful" diffusions leave a rate of adoption that can be retrospectively investigated by
diffusion researchers, while an unsuccessful diffusion does not leave visible traces that can be
very easily studied.
This aspect of the pro-innovation bias may be especially dangerous because it is implicit,
latent, and largely unintentional. How are innovations of study selected in diffusion research?
There are two main ways.
Sometimes the sponsor of an investigation comes to a diffusion researcher with a particular
innovation already in mind.
In many other cases, the diffusion researcher selects the innovations of study (with little
influence from the research sponsor) on the basis of which innovations look intellectually
interesting to the investigator. If everything else is equal, the researcher is likely to choose for
study innovations that are having a relatively rapid rate of adoption.
General result of the pro-innovation bias, we know much more (1) about the diffusion of
rapidly diffusing innovations than about the diffusion of slowly diffusing innovations, (2) about
adoption than about rejection, and (3) about continued use than about discontinuance.
The Individual-Blame Bias in Diffusion Research
Not only is there a pro-innovation bias in much past diffusion research, there has also been a
source-bias, a tendency for diffusion research to side with the change agencies that promote
innovations rather than with the audience of potential adopters
Describe this field of research: "diffusion" research might have been called something like
"problem solving," "innovation seeking," or the "evaluation of innovations" had the audience
originally been a stronger influence on this research.
Individual-blame versus system-blame
Individual blame is the tendency to hold an individual responsible for his or her problems,
rather than the system of which the individual is a part
Posters produced by a pharmaceutical manufacturer were captioned: "LEAD PAINT CAN
Individual-blame and the diffusion of innovations
The variables used in diffusion models [to predict innovativeness], then, are conceptualized so
as to indicate the success or failure of the individual within the system rather than as indications
of success or failure of the system"
Late adopters and laggards are often most likely to be individually blamed for not adopting an
innovation and/or for being much later in adopting than the other members of their system.
Reasons for system-blame
Such research frequently plays an integral role in a chain of events that results in blaming
people in difficult situations for their own predicament
Overcoming the individual-blame bias
Researchers must attempt to keep an open mind about the causes of a social problem, at least
until exploratory data are gathered, and by guarding against accepting change agencies'
definitions of diffusion problems, which tend to be in terms of individual-blame
All the participants should be involved, including potential adopters, in the definition of the
diffusion problem, rather than just those persons who are seeking amelioration of a problem.
Social and communication structural variables should be considered, as well as intraindividual
variables, in diffusion research.
The R&D system that produces innovations, and the communication system that diffuses
them, and to whose benefit, also need attention in future diffusion investigations.
The Recall Problem in Diffusion Research
An innovation diffuses through time. It might seem a simple enough matter to obtain data
from respondents about the time at which they decided to adopt an innovation, but it is not.
Problems in measuring time of adoption
One weakness of diffusion research is its dependence upon recall data from respondents as to
their date of adoption of a new idea
Most social science research methods are better suited to obtaining snapshots of behavior,
rather than moving pictures, which would be more appropriate for determining the time-order of
The pro-innovation bias in diffusion research, and the overwhelming reliance on correlational
analysis of survey data, often led in the past to avoiding or ignoring the issue of causality among
The Generation of Innovations:The Innovation-Development Process
The innovation-development process consists of all of the decisions, activities, and their impacts
that occur from recognition of a need or problem, through research, development, and
commercialization of an innovation, through diffusion and adoption of the innovation by users,
to its consequences.
The innovation-development process consists of all the decisions, activities, and their impacts
that occur from recognition of a need or problem, through research, development, and
commercialization of an innovation, through diffusion and adoption of the innovation by users,
to its consequences. Recognition of a problem or need may happen by means of a political
process through which a social problem rises to a high priority on the agenda of problems that
deserve research; in other cases, a scientist may perceive a future problem or sense a present
difficulty and begin a research program to seek solutions.
6 main stages of innovation diffusion process:
a. Needs/ Problems
b. Research (Basic and Applied)
e. Diffusion and Adoption
These stages are somewhat aribitary in that they do not always occur in exactly
the order and certain stages may be skipped in the certain innovations.
1. Recognizing a Problem or Need
The decision makers generally shared the conventional view of the traffic safety problem: that it
was due to ''the nut behind the wheel" (an individual-blame perspective). On the other hand,
most of the research community rejected this "old guard" view of the safety problem and felt that
solutions had to come from the redesign of autos and highways (a system-blame view).
Federal law was passed
a. Requiring auto makers to design safer cars, and
b. Forcing the highway construction industry to build safer roads such as by placing the
impact attenuators in the front of viaduct pillars.
The social construction of this problem involved both scientific expertise and political forces as
agenda setting process of determining innovation-needs evolved over the time
2. Basic and Applied Research
Technology is a design for instrumental action that reduces the uncertainty in the cause-
effect relationships involved in achieving a desired outcome. A technology usually has
hardware and software components. Our definition implies some need or problem. Tool
are hardware and software
a. Material aspect (the equipment, products, etc.)
b. Software aspect, consisting of knowledge, skills, procedures, and/or principles that are an
information base for the tool.
c. Basic research-original investigations for the advancement of scientific knowledge - not
meant for practical problem solving
d. Applied research-scientific investigations that are intended to solve practical problems
e. Successful research may lead to a patent (if the innovation is proven to be genuinely
The knowledge base for a technology usually derives from basic research, defined as original
investigations for the advancement of scientific knowledge that do not have the specific
objective of applying this knowledge to practical problems. In contrast, applied research consists
of scientific investigations that are intended to solve practical problems. Scientific knowledge is
put into practice in order to design an innovation that will solve a perceived need or problem.
Applied researchers are the main users of basic research.
An invention (Invention is the process by which a new idea is discovered or created. In contrast,
innovation occurs when a new idea is adopted or used.) May result from a sequence of basic
research followed by applied research leading to development.
Serendipity: Accidental discovery of new idea: Post-its, minoxidil, DDT, penicillin, SMS, laptop
a. Lead users develop innovations and then convince a manufacturing company to produce
and sell the innovation, often after a lead user has created a prototype of the new product.
Typically lead user develops the innovation before the beginning of the S-shaped
b. Hoff had the idea of combining all twelve chips into a single semiconductor chip, which
lead him to think about putting the central processing unit for a computer on a single
semiconductor chip, which is the first microprocessor, made possible the microcomputer.
c. Used Internet to contact lead user: in the late 1990s Sony set up a web site to contact the
hackers who were developing new video games for a Sony’s playstation, amazingly ten
thousands hackers responded.
d. Tetsuya Mizoguchi ― A brilliant engineer, he has full of new ideas, not afraid of upsetting
others, a hard driver of his team, and he never missed an opportunity, at that time he
appeared to be highly admired but not loved by his subordinates‖
Skunk works (Success of Laptop project in Toshiba Ome Factory): is widely used in business,
engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree
of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret
Disobeying orders and risking his career for the sake of innovation development. A general
principle about innovation champions is that the lower they are in the organizational hierarchy,
the more innovative their new product.
Most R&D organizations are bureaucracies, structured to provide stability and continuity but not
flexible enough to nurture innovations. : Why skunkworks needed to develop innovations such as
Lockheed’s P-80 Shooting Star, Toshiba laptop, and Apple Macintosh?
The innovation-development process is highly uncertain and unpredictable, with serendipity and
accident playing a major role. So our present model of the six-phased process of innovation
development should be considered only a general guide from which most innovations in reality
Development of an innovation is the process of putting a new idea in a form that is expected to
meet the needs of an audience of potential adopters.
The role of uncertainty in R&D
R&D workers must devote much effort to obtaining and using information: data about the
performance of the innovation they are seeking to create and market, about the materials and
components they are fabricating into the innovation, information about competitors' innovations,
the nature of existing patents related to their proposed innovation, government policies affecting
their proposed innovation, and the problems faced by consumers in their market and how the
proposed innovation might help solve certain of these perceived problems.
The innovation-development process is, most of all, driven by the exchange of technical
information in the face of a high degree of uncertainty
Silicon Valley is an information system for the exchange of technical knowledge. Naturally, a
semiconductor company wishes to prevent its technological secrets from spreading to its
competitors by means of patents, security against industrial espionage, and by other means.
30 percent job-mobility rate among Silicon Valley R&D workers, which shows us that one
means of obtaining another firm's technical secrets is to hire one of its key engineers. Of course,
there is a counter-strategy: the other firm may rehire its original employee six months or a year
later, when he knows many of the competitor's technical secrets
Development of a new high-technology industry:
A new industry is created by a major process or product innovation, and develops
technologically as less radical, follow-on innovations are introduced.
a. Innovation, a period of very high uncertainty where trial-and error problem solving leads
to the innovation, with makeshift production in a small facility such as a garage. A few
new firms are founded and the industry begins.
b. Imitation, when there is decreasing uncertainty as many new firms enter the industry and
develop their own variants of the basic innovation, which is gradually improved through
R&D and by closer attention to marketing.
c. Technological competition, where R&D laboratories improve the innovation through
production-process changes, while smaller firms find it difficult to enter the industry and
competition eliminates existing firms that cannot succeed in making important
improvements on the basic innovation.
d. Standardization, where the ideal product has been found and R&D activities concentrate
on improving the production process and on prolonging the product life cycle, and where
technological competition has shifted to price competition
Technology Transfer: is a application of information to use, it is usually two ways back and forth
process of communication.
Technology moves mainly in one direction such as from university or a federal R&D lab to a
private company, the two or most parties participate in a series of communication as they seek to
establish a mutual understanding about the meanings of technology.
Possible levels of technology transfer:
a. Knowledge: preceptor knows about the technology
b. Use: receptor has put the technology into use in his or her organization
c. Commercialization: receptor has commercialized the technology into product that is sold
in the marketplace.
Commercialization is the production, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, and distribution
of a product that embodies an innovation
Two or more innovations are often packaged together in order to facilitate their diffusion because
the several innovations have a functional interrelatedness, or at least they are so perceived by
5. Diffusion and Adoption
Perhaps the most crucial decision in the entire innovation development process is the
decision to begin diffusing the innovation to potential adopters. On the one hand, there is
usually pressure to approve an innovation for diffusion as soon as possible, as the social
problem/need that it seeks to solve may have been given a high priority.
Technology gate keeping
Gatekeeping is the process through which information is filtered for dissemination, whether for
publication, broadcasting, the Internet, or some other mode of communication. The academic
theory of gatekeeping is found in multiple fields of study, including communication studies,
journalism, political science, and sociology
Innovation gatekeeping intended to determine which innovations should be diffused is performed
in a variety of ways by different organizations.
The research/extension support for an innovation cluster, or lack of it, can speed up or retard the
rate of adoption of the cluster in a state or in a county
Commercial vendors of the purchased products/equipment can affect the rate of adoption of a
technology cluster on the basis of when (and if) they make available the inputs necessary for
The final phase in the innovation-development process is the consequences of an innovation.
Kind of serendipity always creates product and service innovation.
Socioeconomic Status, Equality, and Innovation Development
One of the important policy shifts in international development and on the part of the federal
government during the 1970s was to pay much greater attention to issues of socioeconomic
equality. These policy issues are directly related with every phase of the innovation development
Socioeconomic status is highly related to their degree of change agent contact, and that statuses
(and change agent contact) are in turn highly related to their degree of innovativeness
The socioeconomic status of individual adopters is interfaced with the nature of the innovation at
the research and development phases of the innovation-development process
Tracing the Innovation Development Process (tracer studies) – based on archival records patents,
interviews. Usually show that:
a. Applied research did more than basic research for eventual diffusion
b. Up to 20 yrs can elapse between basic research and application
c. Innovations come in clusters, and considerable serendipity occurs
Shortcomings of retrospective tracer studies:
a. Retrospective methods are limited
b. Focus on R&D but not on diffusion or consequences
Future research on the innovation-development process should look at:
a. Who sets the agenda of research priorities
b. What happens to credibility when an innovation is discontinued (weed killer)
c. Equity issues
The innovation-decision Process
A Model of the Innovation-Decision Process
a. Knowledge occurs when an individual (or other decision making unit) is exposed to the
innovation's existence and gains some understanding of how it functions.
b. Persuasion occurs when an individual (or other decision making unit) forms a favorable
or unfavorable attitude toward the innovation.
c. Decision occurs when an individual (or other decision-making unit) engages in activities
that lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation.
d. Implementation occurs when an individual (or other decision making unit) puts an
innovation into use.
e. Confirmation occurs when an individual (or other decision making unit) seeks
reinforcement of an innovation-decision already made, but he or she may reverse this
previous decision if exposed to conflicting messages about the innovation.
1. Knowledge Stage
It is argued that one becomes aware of an innovation quite by accident, as one cannot actively
seek an innovation until one knows that it exists.
Types of Knowledge about an Innovation
An innovation typically contains software information, which is embodied in the innovation and
serves to reduce uncertainty about the cause-effect relationships that are involved in achieving a
desired outcome (such as meeting a need or problem of the individual).
The adopter must understand what quantity of an innovation to secure, how to use it correctly,
and so on. In the case of innovations that are relatively more complex, the amount of how-to
knowledge needed for proper adoption is much greater than in the case of less complex ideas.
Principles knowledge consists of information dealing with the functioning principles underlying
how the innovation works. It is usually possible to adopt an innovation without principles
knowledge, but the danger of misusing the new idea is greater, and discontinuance may result.
The notion of germ theory, which underlies the functioning of vaccinations and latrines in village
sanitation and health campaigns; the fundamentals of human reproduction, which form a basis
for family-planning innovations; and the biology of plant growth, which underlies fertilizer
Early Versus Late Knower of Innovations
The characteristics of earlier knowers of an innovation are similar to the characteristics of
innovators: more education, higher social status, and the like. But of course this does not mean
that earlier knowers are necessarily innovators. Knowing about an innovation is often quite
different from using the idea.
Generalizations summarize of early knowers
a. Generalization 5-1: Earlier knowers of an innovation have more education than later
b. Generalization 5-2: Earlier knowers of an innovation have higher social status than later
c. Generalization 5-3: Earlier knowers of an innovation have more exposure to mass media
channels of communication than later knowers.
d. Generalization 5-4: Earlier knowers of an innovation have more exposure to interpersonal
channels of communication than later knowers.
e. Generalization 5-5: Earlier knowers of an innovation have more change agent contact
than later knowers.
f. Generalization 5-6: Earlier knowers of an innovation have more social participation than
g. Generalization 5-7: Earlier knowers of an innovation are more cosmopolite than later
At the persuasion stage the individual becomes more psychologically involved with the
innovation, and actively seek the information about the new idea.
Where to seek the information; what kind of message is received; how to interpret the received
Selective perception is important in determining the individual's behavior at the persuasion stage,
for it is at the persuasion stage that a general perception of the innovation is developed. Such
perceived attributes of an innovation as its relative advantage, compatibility, and complexity are
especially important at this stage.
A preventive innovation is a new idea that an individual adopts in order to avoid the possible
occurrence of some unwanted event in the future. The undesired event may, or may not, occur if
the innovation is not adopted so the consequences of preventive innovation are uncertain.
3. Decision Stage
The decision stage in the innovation-decision process occurs when an individual (or other
decision-making unit) engages in activities that lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation.
The innovation-decision process can just as logically lead to a rejection decision as to adoption.
a. Active rejection, which consists of considering adoption of the innovation (including
even its trial) but then deciding not to adopt it.
b. Passive rejection (also called non adoption), which consists of never really considering
use of the innovation.
4. Implementation Stage
Implementation occurs when an individual (or other decision-making unit) puts an innovation
into use. Until the implementation stage, the innovation-decision process has been a strictly
mental exercise. But implementation involves overt behavior change, as the new idea is actually
put into practice. Past conceptualizations of the innovation decision process have generally not
fully recognized the importance, or even the existence, of the implementation stage
The End of Implementation
The innovation finally loses its distinctive quality as the separate identity of the new idea
disappears. This point is usually considered the end of the implementation stage, and is often
referred to as routinization or institutionalization; also represent the termination of the
innovation-decision process, at least for most individuals.
Degree to which an innovation is changed or modified by a user in the process of its adoption
and implementation. Adoption of an innovation meant the exact copying or imitation of how the
innovation had been used previously in a different setting.
The choices available to a potential adopter are not just adoption or rejection; modification of the
innovation or selective rejection of some components of the innovation may also be options.
a. Innovations that are relatively more complex and difficult to understand are more likely
to be re-invented.
b. Re-invention can occur owing to the adapter's lack of detailed knowledge about the
innovation, such as when there is relatively little direct contact between the adapter and
change agents or previous adopters
c. The elements comprising an innovation may be tightly or loosely bundled or packaged,
this tight bundle innovation is a collection of highly interdependent components; it is
difficult to adopt one element without adopting the other elements.
d. The degree of reinvention for an innovation is likely to be greater when there is a wide
degree of heterogeneity in the individual and organizational problems with which the
innovation is matched.
e. Local pride of ownership of an innovation may also be a cause of re-invention.
f. Re-invention may occur because a change agency influences its clients to modify or
adapt an innovation.
5. Confirmation Stage
The confirmation stage continues after the decision to adopt or reject for an indefinite
period in time, Throughout the confirmation stage the individual seeks to avoid a state of
dissonance or to reduce it if it occurs
a. Human behavior change is motivated in part by a state of internal disequilibrium or
dissonance, an uncomfortable state of mind that the individual seeks to reduce or
eliminate. When the individual becomes aware of a felt need or problem and seeks
information about some means such as an innovation to meet this need. Hence, a
receiver's knowledge of a need for innovation can motivate information-seeking activity
about the innovation.
b. When the individual knows about a new idea and has a favorable attitude toward it, but
has not adopted. Then the individual is motivated to adopt the innovation by the
dissonance between what he or she believes and what he or she is doing.
c. When the individual secures further information that persuades him or her that he or she
should not have adopted.
a. Replacement decision to reject an idea in order to adopt a better idea that supersedes it
b. Disenchantment: decision to reject an idea as a result of dissatisfaction with its
performance. The dissatisfaction may come about because the innovation is inappropriate
for the individual and does not result in a perceived relative advantage over alternative
Evidence of the Stages
a. Empirical analysis
b. Scientific evaluation
Communication Channels by Stages in the Innovation-Decision Process
a. Categorizing Communication Channels
i) Interpersonal or mass media in nature, Mass media channels are relatively more
important at the knowledge stage and interpersonal channels are relatively more
important at the persuasion stage in the innovation decisionprocess.
Reach a large audience rapidly.
Create knowledge and spread information.
Lead to changes in weakly held attitudes
Provide a two-way exchange of information
Persuade an individual to form or to change a strongly held attitude.
ii) Originating from either localize or cosmopolite sources : Cosmopolite channels are
relatively more important at the knowledge stage, and localize channels are relatively
more important at the persuasion stage in the innovation-decision process
Cosmopolite channels are relatively more important than localize channels for earlier
adopters than for later adopters.
6. The Innovation-Decision Period
The rate of awareness-knowledge for an innovation is more rapid than its rate of adoption
Earlier adopters have a shorter innovation decision period than later adopters.
Rate of Adoption:
Black Music in White America: Rap
Rap music was new musical form originating with lower-income black men from distressed
urban areas who used its lyrical content to draw attention to their feelings of anger, frustration,
and violence. The African rhythmic quality of the new music is in stark contrast to the European
notions of melody that dominate American music. In other words, rap music is a radical
innovation, or was so at the time of its introduction. When rap first emerged in the United States
around 1980, most radio stations refused to play the new music, mainly because its fans were not
an important audience for commercial advertisers.
Reasons that rap, because of its underclass origins, appealed to middle- and upper-class youths
who wished to rebel against the status quo establishment of their parents and society.
Rate of Adoption
Rate of adoption is the speed with which an innovation is adopted by members of a
It is the number of individuals who adopt and innovation
In determining the rate of the adoption, keep in mind:
The type of innovation
The nature of the communication process of the innovation
The nature of the social system the innovation is diffusing
The extent of the change agents’ and promotion of the innovation
Variables for Determining Rate of Adoption (Chart, pg. 222)
Perceived Attributes of innovations
Types of innovation-decision
Nature of the social system
Extent of change agents/promotion efforts
The communication channels used to diffuse an innovation also may influence the innovations
rate of adoption
These five attributes of innovations are
1. Relative advantage, :
Relative advantage is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the
idea it supersedes. The degree of relative advantage is often expressed as economic
profitability, as conveying social prestige, or in other ways. The nature of the innovation
determines what specific type of relative advantage (economic, social, and the like) is
important to adopters, although the characteristics of the potential adopters may also affect
which specific sub dimensions of relative advantage are most important.
Relative advantage is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than
something than the idea it supersedes. It can be expressed as
Social prestige: These variables are very important to the adopters
Status Aspects of the Innovation
On reason to adopt an innovation is the social status it will give to the adopter
Even though every innovation is judged on economic grounds, at least to some degree,
by its potential, adopters, every innovation also has at least some degree of status
conferral. Overadoption is one result of the prestige-conferring aspects of adopting an
A preventive innovation is a new idea that an individual adopts now in order to lower the
probability of some unwanted future event as desired consequence is distant in time, and
so the relative advantage of a preventive innovation is a delayed reward. In contrast, an
incremental (that is, non-preventive) innovation provides a desired outcome in the near
This is the result of the prestige-conferring aspects of adopting an innovation. It is the
adoption of the innovation by an individual when experts feel that he or she should reject.
Preventive innovations are more difficult to diffuse than are incremental innovations. A
preventive innovation is a new idea that an individual adopts in order to lower the probability of
some unwanted future event.
A communication campaign (1) intends to generate specific effects (2) on the part of a relatively
large number of individuals (3) within a specified period of time and (4) through an organized set
of communication activities
Incentives can take a variety of different forms:
Adopter versus diffuser incentives
Individual versus system incentives
Positive versus negative incentives
Monetary versus non-monetary incentives
Immediate versus delayed incentives
On the basis of research and experience with family planning innovations, Rogers (1973)
drew the following drew the following conclusion:
Incentives increase the rate of adoption of an innovation
Adopter incentives lead to adoption of an innovation by individuals different from those
who would otherwise adopt.
Although incentives increases the quantity of adopters of an innovation, the quality of
such adoption decision may be relatively low, thus limiting the intended consequences
In addition to the five attributes discussed in this chapter, three additional attributes were
Voluntariness, the degree to which use of personal work stations is perceived as being an
Image, the degree to which use of a personal work station enhanced an individuals status
in the organization, and
Result demonstrability, the degree to which a personal workstation is easy to
communicate to others (similar to the concept of observability).
Is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past
experiences, and needs of potential adopters.
An innovation can be compatible or incompatible with (1) sociocultural values and beliefs, (2)
previously introduced ideas, and/or (3) client needs for the innovation
The compatibility of an innovation, as perceived by members of a social system ispositively
related to its rate of adoption
A basic assumption of the positioning strategy, based on market research, formative evaluation,
and on social marketing, is that an individual will behave toward a new idea in a similar manner
to the way the individual behaves toward other ideas that are perceived as similar to the new idea.
Positioning research can help identify the ideal niche for an innovation relative to perceptions of
existing ideas in the same category. This ideal niche is determined by the new ideas perceived
position relative (1) to previous ideas and (2) to the characteristics of the new idea that make it
similar to, and different from, existing ideas.
An innovation can be compatible or non-compatible based on
Sociocultural values and beliefs
Previously introduced ideas
Clients’ needs for innovation
Culture and values can either make or break an innovation
Previously introduced ideas on a subject that is embedded into a culture can either speed up
for slow down an innovation.
This can lead to innovation negativism
Compatibility and change agents seek to be sure innovation will meet the needs of the
adopters. This is an important strategy in getting an innovation adopted.
Oftentimes, innovation is not viewed by individuals solely. They can be viewed by a
collection of ideas. (technology). This happens when one idea is closely related to another
Naming an Innovation
This is vital to the cultural values of a people. This is vital to the innovation
Positioning the Innovation
What will be the audience? Where will it be marketed? Who will be the adopters?
A special kind of positioning research. This guides research and design activities of what
kinds of innovations to create.
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
This is the compatibility of the innovation with the culture that is being introduced into.
Change agents frequently overlook the fact that every innovation is evaluated by clients in
terms of their prior experience with something similar.
Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand
and use. Any new idea may be classified on the complexity-simplicity continuum. Some
innovations are clear in their meaning to potential adopters while others are not. Although the
research evidence is not entirely conclusive, we suggest Generalization
The complexity of an innovation, as perceived by members of a social system, is negatively
related to its rate of adoption
Complexity may not be as important as relative advantage or compatibility for many innovations,
but for some new ideas complexity is a very important barrier to adoption
Triability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis.
New ideas that can be tired on the installment plan are generally adopted more rapidly than
innovations that are not divisible. The trialability of an innovation, as perceived by the members
of a social system, is positively related to its rate of adoption.
Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others. Some
ideas are easily observed and communicated to other people, whereas other innovations are
difficult to observe or to describe to others.: The observability of an innovation, as perceived
by members of a social system, is positively related to its rate of adoption
Technology has two components (1) Hardware aspect that consists of the tool that embodies
the technology in the form of a material or physical object and (2) a software aspect that
consists of the information base for the tool. Computer hardware consists of electronic
equipment, while software is the computer programs for a computer system.
Innovativeness and Adopter categories
Adopter categories, the classifications of members of a system on the basis of their
innovativeness. Each adopter category consists of individuals with a similar degree of
innovativeness. So adopter categories are a means of convenience in describing the members of a
Innovativeness, the degree to which an individual (or other unit of adoption) is relatively earlier
in adopting new ideas than other members of a system, than about any other concept in diffusion
research. Because increased innovativeness is a main objective of many change agencies, it
became the main dependent variable in diffusion research. Innovativeness indicates overt
behavioral change, the ultimate goal of most diffusion programs, rather than just cognitive or
attitudinal change. Innovativeness is the bottom-line behavior in the diffusion process.
Classifying the adopter categories on the basis of innovativeness
The most innovative individuals were termed "progress based triers‖, "high-triers,"
"experimentalist‖ "lighthouses," "advance scouts‖ and "ultra adopters.". The least innovative
individuals were called "drones," "parochial," and "diehards." This disarray of adopter categories
and methods of categorization emphasized the need for standardization.
The adoption of an innovation usually follows a normal, bell-shaped curve when plotted over
time on a frequency basis. If the cumulative number of adopters is plotted, the result is an S-
The members of a system do not have completely free access to interact with all other members.
Status differences, geographical barriers, and other variables affect who talks to whom about an
innovation. The S-shaped diffusion curve begins to level off after half of the individuals in a
social system have adopted, because each new adopter finds it increasingly difficult to tell the
new idea to a peer who has not yet adopted, for such non knowers become increasingly scarce.
And the generalization is Adopter distributions follow a bell shaped curve over time and
Measuring organizational innovativeness:
When organizations' time of adoption of an innovation is plotted over time, the cumulative
distribution of adopters usually forms an S-shaped curve.
Communication networks, based in part on spatial propinquity, explain a certain degree of a
states innovativeness in adopting hate crime laws. As these laws spread among the American
states, considerable re-invention occurred, as the exact details of each states law varied.
Certain innovations do not display an S-shaped rate of adoption, perhaps for some idiosyncratic
reason. Perhaps the innovation is taboo in nature, so that individuals cannot discuss it freely.
Perhaps the new idea is applicable only to certain unique population groups within the total
The main point here is not to assume that an S-shaped rate of adoption is an inevitability. Rather,
the shape of the adopter distribution for a particular innovation ought to be regarded as an open
question, to be determined empirically. In most cases when this has been done in past research,
an adopter distribution is found to follow a bell-shaped, normal curve or is S-shaped on a
Set of categories should be (1) exhaustive, including all the units of study, (2) mutually exclusive,
by excluding a unit of study that appears in one category from also appearing in any other
category, and (3) derived from a —single classificatory principle.
The normal frequency distribution divided into five adopter category (1)innovators, (2) early
adopters, (3) early majority, (4) later majority, and (5) laggards. These five adopter categories
and the approximate percentage of individuals included in each are located on the normal adopter
distribution in the figure.
The area lying to the left of the mean time of adoption (of an innovation) minus two standard
deviations includes the first 2.5 percent of the individuals in a system to adopt an innovation, the
innovators. The next 13.5 percent to adopt the new idea are included in the area between the
mean minus one standard deviation and the mean minus two standard deviations;they are labeled
early adopters. The next 34 percent of the adopters, called the early majority, are included in the
area between the mean date of adoption and the mean minus one standard deviation. Between the
mean and one standard deviation to the right of the mean are the next 34 percent to adopt the
new idea, the late majority. The last 16 percent to adopt are called laggards.
1. Innovators: Venturesome
Venturesome is almost an obsession with innovators. Their interest in new ideas leads them out
of a local circle of peer networks and into more cosmopolite social relationships. Communication
patterns and friendships among a clique of innovators are common, even though these
individuals may be quite geographically distanced. Being an innovator has several prerequisites.
Control of substantial financial resources is helpful in absorbing the possible losses from an
unprofitable innovation. The ability to understand and apply complex technical knowledge also
needed. The innovator must be able to cope with a high degree of uncertainty about an
innovation at the time he or she adopts.
2. Early adopters: Respect
Early adopters are a most integrated part of the local social system than are innovators. Where
innovators are cosmopolites, early adopters are localities. This adopter category, more than any
other has the highest degree of opinion leadership in most systems. The early adopter is
respected by his or her peers, and is the embodiment of successful, discrete use of new ideas. The
early adopter knows that to continue to earn this esteem of colleagues and to maintain a central
position in the communication networks of the system, he or she must make judicious
innovation-decisions. The early adopter decreases uncertainty about a new idea by adopting it,
and then conveying a subjective evaluation of the innovation to near peers through interpersonal
networks. In one sense, early adopters put their stamp of approval on a new idea by adopting it.
3. Early majority: Deliberate
The early majority adopt new ideas just before the average member of a system. The early
majority interacts frequently with their peers but seldom hold positions of opinion leadership in a
system. The early majority's unique location between the very early and the relatively late to
adopt makes them an important link in the diffusion process. They provide interconnectedness in
the systems interpersonal networks.
4. Late Majority: Skeptical
The late majority adopt new ideas just after the average member of a system. Like the early
majority, the late majority make up one third of the members of a system. Adoption may be both
an economic necessity for the late majority and the result of increasing peer pressures.
5. Laggards: Traditional
Laggards are the last in a social system to adopt innovation. They possess almost no opinion
leadership. Laggards are the most localite of all adopter categories in their outlook. Decisions are
often made in terms of what has been done previously, and these individuals interact primarily
with others who also have relatively traditional values. Laggards tend to be suspicious of
innovations and of change agents. Their innovation-decision process is relatively lengthy, with
adoption and use lagging far behind awareness knowledge of a new idea.
Characteristics of Adopter Categories
Diffusion research in a series of generalizations under three headings:
Socio economic status :
a. Socioeconomic characteristics:
Early adopters are no different from later adopters in age though there is
inconsistent evidence about the relationship of age and innovativeness.
Earlier adopters have more years of formal education
Earlier adopters have higher social status
Earlier adopters have a greater degree of upwards social mobility
Earlier adopters have larger sized units (farms schools, companies, and so on)
b. Personality variables:
Earlier adopters have greater empathy . Empathy
Earlier adopters may be less dogmatic than are later adopters
Earlier adopters have a greater ability to deal with abstractions
Earlier adopters have greater rationality
Earlier adopters have more intelligence
Earlier adopters have more favorable attitudes towards change
Earlier adopters are better able to cope with uncertainty and risk than are later
Earlier adopters have more favorable attitude towards science
Earlier adopters are less fatalistic than are later adopters
Earlier adopters have higher aspirations (렉래그미 education, higher status,
occupations, and so on) .
c. Communication behavior
Earlier adopters have more social participation
Earlier adopters are more highly interconnected through interpersonal networks
in their social system than are later adopters
Earlier adopters are more cosmopolite than are later adopters
Earlier adopters have more contact with change agents
Earlier adopters have greater exposure to mass media communication channers
Earlier adopters have greater exposure to interpersonal communication
Earlier adopters seek information about innovations more actively .
Earlier adopters have greater knowledge of innovations .
Earlier adopters have a higher degree of opinion leadership .
Audience Segmentation and Adopter Categories
Audience segmentation is a strategy in which different communication channels
or messages are used to reach each sub audience. This strategy breaks down a
heterophilous audience into a series of relatively more homophilous sub
The important differences among these adopter categories suggest that change
agents should use a different approach with each adopter category, or audience
The innovativeness/needs paradox and the strategy of least resistance
The individuals or other units in a system who most need the benefits of a new
idea (the less educated, less wealthy, and the like) are generally the last to adopt
The paradoxical relationship between innovativeness and need for the benefits
of an innovation tends to widen socioeconomic gaps between the higher- and
lower-socioeconomic individuals in a system
The paradox occurs in which those individuals who might need an innovation
most are the last to adopt.
Least resistance: specially contact socioeconomic elites, who are the most
receptive to innovation.
Greatest resistance communication efforts are concentrated on the subaudiences
who are lowest in socioeconomic status, who feel the least need for the
innovation, and who would ordinarily be the last to adopt.
Network Influences on Innovativeness
In previous days the diffusion research focused on individual characteristics
related to innovativeness like formal education, socio economic status and
other factors; in recent years several diffusion scholars also investigated the
role of an individuals network partners in explaining the focal individuals
Opinion leadership in diffusion
Opinion leaders are individuals who lead in influencing others' opinions, the behavior of opinion
leaders is important in determining the rate of adoption of an innovation in a system.
Models of communication flows:
Hypodermic needle model
The mass media had direct, immediate, and powerful effects on a mass
The omnipotent media were pictured as conveying messages to atomized
masses of individuals
The hypodermic needle model was based primarily on intuitive theorizing from
unique historical events and was too simple, too mechanistic, and too gross to
give an accurate account of media effects. It ignored the role of opinion leaders
The Two-Step Flow Model
The two-step flow model helped focus attention upon the interface between mass
communication channels and interpersonal communication channels.
The first step, from media sources to opinion leaders, is mainly a transfer of
information, whereas the second step, from opinion leaders to their followers,
also involves the spread of interpersonal influence. This two-step flow
hypothesis suggested that communication messages flow from a source, via
mass media channels, to opinion leaders, who in turn pass them on to followers.
This model has been widely tested in diffusion of innovations studies, and
found generally to provide useful understandings of the flow of communication.
Although important notions have been borrowed from the two-step model and
amplified by later research, the oversimplified idea of a two-step flow is
scarcely mentioned by scholars today
Homophily and Heterophily in communication networks
Homophily and heterophily
A fundamental principle of human communication is that the exchange of
ideas occurs most frequently between individuals who are alike, or
In certain attributes, such as beliefs, education, socioeconomic status, and
Homophily occurs frequently because communication is more effective
when source and receiver are homophilous, When two individuals share
common meanings, beliefs, and mutual understandings, communication
between them is more likely to be effective
Homophily as a Barrier to Dijfusion
Homophily can act as an invisible barrier to the flow of innovations within a
system because new idea generally flows from the higher social status people
and more innovative people to others
A high degree of homophily would mean that these elite individuals interact
mainly with one another, and thus the innovation would not trickle down to
nonelites therefore it causes the diffusion pattern to flow in horizontal rather
than vertical so slows down the rate of diffusion.
Interpersonal diffusion networks are mostly homophiliy, in contrast when
interpersonal diffusion networks are heterophilous, followers seek opinion
leaders of higher socioeconomic status, with more formal education with greater
degree of mass media exposure, who are more cosmopolite, have greater contact
with change agents, and are more innovative.
Measuring opinion leadership and network links
Sociometric techniques: The socioemetric method consists of asking
respondents whom they sought (or hypothetically might seek) for information
or advice about a given topic, such as a particular innovation.
The sociometric technique is a highly valid measure of opinion leadership, as it
Information ratings is measured through the perceptions of followers. It
necessitates, however, interrogating a large number of respondents in order to
locate a small number of opinion leaders.
Self-designating techniques: The self-designating technique asks respondents to
indicate the degree to which others in the system regard them as influential.
"Individuals select themselves to be peer leaders"
The self-designating method depends upon the accuracy with which
respondents can identify and report their images. This measure of opinion
leadership is especially appropriate when interrogating arkndom sample of
respondents in a system, a sampling design that precludes effective use of
Observation: Opinion leadership can be measured by observation, in which an
investigator identifies and records the communication behavior in a system.
Opinion leaders in a system generally find a high degree of stability over time
over a period of decades the opinion leaders in a system must inevitably change,
even in a relatively stable community or organization.
Characteristics of Opinion Leader:
Opinion leaders have greater exposure to mass media than their followers.
Opinion leaders are more cosmopolite than their followers.
Opinion leaders have greater contact with change agents than their followers
Opinion leaders have greater social participation than their followers
Opinion leaders have higher socioeconomic status than their followers
Opinion leaders are more innovative than their followers
Opinion leaders are more innovative than their followers
Innovativeness, Opinion Leadership, and System Norms
When a social system's norms favor change, opinion leaders are more innovative,
but when the norms do not favor change, opinion leaders are not especially
Monomorphic and Polymorphic Opinion Leadership
Polymorphism is the degree to which an individual acts as an opinion leader for a variety of
topics. Its opposite, monomorphism, is the tendency for an individual to act as an opinion leader
for only a single topic. The degree of polymorphic opinion leadership in a given social system
seems to vary with such factors as the diversity of the topics on which opinion leadership is
measured, whether system norms are progressive or not, and so on.
Communication network analysis
The weak-versus-strong-ties dimension is more correctly and precisely called communication
proximity, defined as the degree to which two individuals in a network have personal
communication networks that overlap.
The information-exchange potential of communication network links is negatively related to
their degree of(1) communication proximity, and (2) homophily.
Who Is Linked to Whom in Networks?
Individuals tend to be linked to others who are close to them in physical distance and
who are relatively homophilous in social characteristics.
Social Learning Theory
Contrasting Social Learning and Diffusion
Most psychological approaches to human learning look within the individual in order to
understand how learning occurs. But the social learning approach looks outside of the
individual at information exchanges with others in order to explain how behavior
The basic perspective of social learning theory is that the individual can learn from
observation of other people's activities, so the individual does not actually need to
experience a verbal exchange of information in order for the individual's behavior to be
influenced by the model.
Horizons for Social Modeling
Observability was restricted to persons who are in direct contact with a focal individual, or who
have at least one friend in common. Unless scientists were linked by a minimum of at least two-
step flows, little social modeling seemed to occur.
The Change Agent
A change agent is an individual who influences clients' innovation decisions in a direction
deemed desirable by a change agency. In most cases a change agent seeks to secure the adoption
of new ideas, but he or she may also attempt to slow the diffusion process and prevent the
adoption of certain innovations.
Especially in decentralized diffusion systems, the potential adopters may control their change
agents; in some cases, certain of the "clients" serve as their own change agents. Even in
relatively centralized diffusion systems, the long-range goal of many change agents is to create
conditions in which clients can help themselves, and thus work the change agent out of a job.
Change Agents as Linkers
The change agent linkers are the person who are closely related to the community like teachers,
consultants, public health workers, development workers, and many others.One of the main roles
of a change agent is to facilitate the flow of innovations from a change agency to an audience of
Change agents, even though they link the two social systems, may also be quite heterophilous in
relation to their clients and to their superiors in the change agency. This heterophily gap on both
sides of the change agent creates role conflicts and problems in communication. As a bridge
between two differing systems, the change agent is necessarily a marginal figure with one foot in
each of two worlds.
Facing this problem of social marginality, change agents also must deal with the problems of
information overload, defined as the state of an individual or a system in which excessive
communication inputs cannot be processed and utilized, leading to breakdown.
Problem faced by change agents
Their social marginality, due to their position midway between a change agency and
their client system,
Information overload, the state of an individual or a system in which excessive
communication inputs cannot be processed and used, leading to breakdown.
The Sequence of Change-Agent Roles
Develops need for change
Establishes an information-exchange relationship
Diagnoses their problems
Creates intent to change in the client
Translates intent into action
Stabilizes adoption and prevents discontinuances
Achieves a terminal relationship
Factors in Change Agent Success
Change Agent Effort
Change agent success ispositively related to the extent of change agent effort in
Change Agency Versus Client Orientation
Change agent success is positivelyrelated to a client orientation, rather than to a
change agency orientation.
Compatibility with Clients' Needs
Change agent success is positively related to the degree to which the diffusion
program is compatible with clients' needs.
Change Agent Empathy
Change agent success ispositively related to empathy with clients.
Homophily and Change Agent Contact
Change agent contact is positively related to higher social status among clients
Change agent contact is positively related to greater social participation among clients
Change agent contact is positively related to higher education among clients
Change agent contact is positively related to cosmopoliteness among clients
Change agent success is positively related to homophilywith clients
Paraprofessional Aides, Change Agent Credibility, Inauthentic Professionalization of Aides are
important motivating factors for the change agents and the diffuse the innovation
Change agent success is positively related to the extent that he or she works through
Change agent success is positively related to increasing clients' ability to evaluate
Change agents often are more concerned with such short-range goals as escalating the
rate of adoption of innovations. Instead, self-reliance should be the goal of change
agencies, leading to termination of client dependence upon the change agent. This goal,
however, is seldom reached by most change agencies; they usually promote the adoption
of innovations, rather than seeking to teach clients the basic skill of how to evaluate
Centralized and Decentralized Diffusion Systems
In centralized diffusion systems such as the agricultural extension services in the United States,
overall control of diffusion decisions (such as which innovations to diffuse, how to diffuse them,
and whom to diffuse them to) are made by national government administrators and technical
subject-matter experts. Diffusion in decentralized systems flows in a one-way, linear direction,
top-down from experts to users.
Decentralized diffusion systems are client-controlled, with wide sharing of power and control
among the members of the diffusion system. Instead of coming out of formal R&D systems,
innovations in decentralized systems come from local experimentation by nonexperts, who are
An innovation originates from some expert source (often an R&D organization). This source
then diffuses the innovation as a uniform package to potential adopters who accept or reject the
innovation. The role of the adopter of the innovation is that of a passive accepter.
Comparing Centralized Versus Decentralized Diffusion Systems
The classical diffusion model is relatively centralized, while the decentralized diffusion system
more closely follows a convergence model of communication, in which participants create and
share information with one another in order to reach a mutual understanding.
Several disadvantages, however, usually characterize decentralized diffusion systems
Technical expertise is sometimes difficult to bring to bear on decisions about which
innovations to diffuse and to adopt, and it is possible for "bad innovations" to diffuse
through a decentralized system because of this lack of "quality control."
Extremely decentralized diffusion systems lack a coordinating role (that is, the "big
picture" of the system, where problems exist and which innovations might be used to
A national government wants an innovation diffused for which the people do not feel a
need. In a highly decentralized system, such an innovation simply will not diffuse
Decentralized diffusion systems are most appropriate for certain conditions, such as for
diffusing innovations that do not involve a high level of technical expertise, among a set
of users with relatively heterogeneous conditions.
Certain elements of centralized and decentralized diffusion systems can be combined to
form a diffusion system that uniquely fits a particular situation.
Innovation in Organizations
An organization is a stable system of individuals who work together to achieve common goals
through a hierarchy of ranks and a division of labor which are created to handle routine tasks and
to lend stability to human relationships.
Stable and predictable organizational structure is obtained through
Rules and regulations
Until about the mid-1970s, innovation in organizations was mainly studied by means of variance
research; independent variables were correlated with organizational innovativeness in cross-
sectional data analysis. The chief executive in an organization was asked to provide information
in these large-scale surveys. Rather low relationships of characteristics variables with
organizational innovativeness were found, and today this type of research is outdated.
Shortcomings of Organizational Innovativeness Studies
The approach in organizational innovativeness become outdated because
The organizational innovativeness studies found rather low relationships between the
independent variables that were investigated and the dependent variable of
innovativeness. Because of the rather large sample size (often a hundred or more
organizations), the typical organizational innovativeness study had to follow a highly
quantitative approach to data analysis.
The organizational innovativeness studies could not have been designed more
appropriately to preclude understanding the innovation process in organizations, and the
dependent and independent variables are not properly evaluated.
One of the vexing problems of the organizational innovativeness studies was how
adequately the data provided by the chief executive represented the innovation behavior
of the relevant members of the organization. Certainly there is no reason to expect
consensus about the adoption of an innovation on the part of even the top leaders in an
organization, let alone to expect complete agreement between management and the
workers in an organization
Size and Organizational Innovativeness depends on (1) their bigness in staff and budget, which
in turn rested on (2) the size of the city they served, and (3) the cosmopoliteness, accreditation,
and prestige of the health director among his or her peer health officials.
Size is probably a surrogate measure of several dimensions that lead to innovation: total
resources, slack resources, organizational structure, and so on.
A predictable organizational structure is obtained through:
Rules and Regulations
Concept of Virtual Organization
Virtual organization is a network of geographically distant employees who are linked by
electronic communication. The virtual organizations are more flexible, have less hierarchy, and
the organization has edgeless permeable boundaries.
Structural Characteristics and Organizational Innovativeness
Organizational innovativeness is associated with (1) individual (leader) characteristics,
(2) internal organizational structural characteristics, and (3) external characteristics of
Centralization is the degree to which power and control in a system are concentrated in
the hands of relatively few individuals. Centralization has usually been found to be
negatively associated with innovativeness; that is, the more power is concentrated in an
organization the less innovative that organization tends to be.
Complexity is the degree to which an organization's members possess a relatively high
level of knowledge and expertise, usually measured by the members' range of
occupational specialties and their degree of professionalism expressed by formal training.
Formalization is the degree to which an organization emphasizes following rules and
procedures in the role performance of its members.
Interconnectedness is the degree to which the units in a social system are linked by
Organizational slack is the degree to which uncommitted resources are available to an
Low centralization, high complexity, and low formalization facilitate initiation in the
innovation process, but these same structural characteristics make it difficult for an
organization to implement an innovation
Structural Characteristics and Organizational Innovativeness
Role of Champions
A champion is a charismatic individual who throws his or her weight behind an innovation, thus
overcoming indifference or resistance that the new idea may provoke in an organization
The presence of an innovation champion contributes to the success of an innovation in an
organization, new idea either finds a champion or dies
Innovation champions tended to be true for innovations that were costly, highly visible, or
radical. There must be a champion of innovation that is highly uncertain, or else they may indeed
die but champions of less radical innovations are often middle managers.