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Diffusion & innovation theory

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Communication Theory

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Diffusion & innovation theory

  1. 1. Diffusion & Innovation Theory M.SOHAIB AFZAAL
  2. 2. DIFINTION Process by which new ideas are adopted or rejected.  We are creatures of habit.  Human beings do not like change.
  3. 3. DIFINITION A hypothesis outlining how new technological and other advancements spread throughout societies and cultures, from introduction to wider-adoption. The diffusion of innovations theory seeks to explain how and why new ideas and practices are adopted, with timelines potentially spread out over long periods. The way in which innovations are communicated to different parts of society and the subjective opinions associated with the innovations are important factors in how quickly diffusion - or spreading - occurs. Factors that affect the rate of innovation diffusion include the mix of rural to urban population within a society, the society's level of education and the extent of industrialization and development. Different societies are likely to have different adoption rates (the rate at which members of a society accept a new innovation) for different types of innovation. For example, a society may have adopted the internet faster than it adopted the automobile due to cost, accessibility and familiarity with technological change.
  4. 4. Diffusion Theory Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) Theory, developed by E.M. Rogers in 1962, is one of the oldest social science theories. It originated in communication to explain how, over time, an idea or product gains momentum and diffuses (or spreads) through a specific population or social system. The end result of this diffusion is that people, as part of a social system, adopt a new idea, behavior, or product. Adoption means that a person does something differently than what they had previously (i.e., purchase or use a new product, acquire and perform a new behavior, etc.).
  5. 5. The key to adoption is that the person must perceive the idea, behavior, or product as new or innovative. It is through this that diffusion is possible. Adoption of a new idea, behavior, or product (i.e., "innovation") does not happen simultaneously in a social system; rather it is a process whereby some people are more apt to adopt the innovation than others. Researchers have found that people who adopt an innovation early have different characteristics than people who adopt an innovation later. When promoting an innovation to a target population, it is important to understand the characteristics of the target population that will help or hinder adoption of the innovation.
  6. 6. The Mechanism of Diffusion Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system (5). Given that decisions are not authoritative or collective, each member of the social system faces his/her own innovation- decision that follows a 5-step process : 1. Knowledge – Person becomes aware of an innovation and has some idea of how it functions. 2. Persuasion – Person forms a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the innovation. 3. Decision – Person engages in activities that lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation. 4. Implementation – Person puts an innovation into use. 5. Confirmation – Person evaluates the results of an innovation-decision already made.
  7. 7. Five Established Adopter Categories 1. Innovators 2. Early adopters 3. Early majority 4. Majority 5. No adopters (laggards)
  8. 8. 1. Innovators : These are people who want to be the first to try the innovation. They are venturesome and interested in new ideas. These people are very willing to take risks, and are often the first to develop new ideas. Very little, if anything, needs to be done to appeal to this population. 2. Early Adopters : These are people who represent opinion leaders. They enjoy leadership roles, and embrace change opportunities. They are already aware of the need to change and so are very comfortable adopting new ideas. Strategies to appeal to this population include how-to manuals and information sheets on implementation. They do not need information to convince them to change. 3. Early Majority : These people are rarely leaders, but they do adopt new ideas before the average person. That said, they typically need to see evidence that the innovation works before they are willing to adopt it. Strategies to appeal to this population include success stories and evidence of the innovation's effectiveness.
  9. 9. 4. Late Majority : These people are skeptical of change, and will only adopt an innovation after it has been tried by the majority. Strategies to appeal to this population include information on how many other people have tried the innovation and have adopted it successfully. 5. Laggards : These people are bound by tradition and very conservative. They are very skeptical of change and are the hardest group to bring on board. Strategies to appeal to this population include statistics, fear appeals, and pressure from people in the other adopter groups.
  10. 10. Five Main Factors That Influence Adoption Of An Innovation 1. Relative Advantage - The degree to which an innovation is seen as better than the idea, program, or product it replaces. 2. Compatibility - How consistent the innovation is with the values, experiences, and needs of the potential adopters. 3. Complexity - How difficult the innovation is to understand and/or use. 4. Triability - The extent to which the innovation can be tested or experimented with before a commitment to adopt is made. 5. Observability - The extent to which the innovation provides tangible results.
  11. 11. Roles In The Innovation 1) Opinion Leaders Who have relatively frequent informal influence over the behavior of others. 2) Change Agents Who positively influence innovation decisions, by mediating between the change agency and the relevant social system. 3) Change Aides Who complement the change agent, by having more intensive contact with clients, and who have less competence credibility but more safety or trustworthiness credibility.
  12. 12. Affecting the Diffusion of an Innovation Now that we know the mechanisms of diffusion, we have a basis for considering what efforts are most successful in encouraging the spread of an innovation. It used to be assumed that the mass media had direct, immediate, and powerful effects on the mass audience. But diffusion theory argues that, since opinion leaders directly affect the tipping of an innovation, a powerful way for change agents to affect the diffusion of an innovation is to affect opinion leader attitudes. I will examine the potency of the mass media and persuasion of opinion leaders in encouraging the diffusion of an innovation.
  13. 13. The mass media’s most powerful effect on diffusion is that it spreads knowledge of innovations to a large audience rapidly. It can even lead to changes in weakly held attitudes. But strong interpersonal ties are usually more effective in the formation and change of strongly held attitudes. Research has shown that firm attitudes are developed through communication exchanges about the innovation with peers and opinion leaders. These channels are more trusted and have greater effectiveness in dealing with resistance or apathy on the part of the communicate.
  14. 14. Persuading Opinion Leaders Persuading opinion leaders is the easiest way to foment positive attitudes toward an innovation. Rogers explains that the types of opinion leaders that change agents should target depend on the nature of the social system. Social systems can be characterized as heterophilous or homophilous. On one hand, heterophilous social systems tend to encourage change from system norms. In them, there is more interaction between people from different backgrounds, indicating a greater interest in being exposed to new ideas.
  15. 15. These systems have opinion leadership that is more innovative because these systems are desirous of innovation. On the other hand, homophilous social systems tend toward system norms. Most interaction within them is between people from similar backgrounds. People and ideas that differ from the norm are seen as strange and undesirable. These systems have opinion leadership that is not very innovative because these systems are averse to innovation.
  16. 16. 1. Heterophilous systems: change agents can concentrate on targeting the most elite and innovative opinion leaders and the innovation will trickle-down to non-elites. If an elite opinion leader is convinced to adopt an innovation, the rest will exhibit excitement and readiness to learn and adopt it. The domino effect will commence with enthusiasm rather than resistance. 2. Homophilous systems: however, encouraging the diffusion of an innovation is a far more difficult business. Change agents must target a wider group of opinion leaders, including some of the less elite, because innovations are less likely to trickle-down. Opinion leaders who adopt innovations in homophilous systems are more likely to be regarded as suspicious and/or dismissed from their opinion leadership. Often, opinion leaders in homophilous systems avoid adopting innovations in hopes of protecting their opinion leadership. Generally, in homophilous systems, opinion leaders do not control attitudes as much as pre-existing norms do. Change agents must, if possible, communicate to opinion leaders a convincing argument in favor of the innovation that accentuates the compatibility of the innovation with system norms. The opinion leaders will then be able to use this argument, which will hopefully resonate with the masses, to support their own adoption decision.
  17. 17. Change Agent Functions 1. To develop a need for change on the part of the client; 2. To establish an information-exchange relationship; 3. To diagnose the client problems; 4. To create intent to change in the client; 5. To translate this intent into action; 6. To stabilize adoption and prevent discontinuance; and 7. To shift the client from reliance on the change agent to self-reliance.
  18. 18. Limitations of Diffusion of Innovation Theory 1. Much of the evidence for this theory, including the adopter categories, did not originate in public health and it was not developed to explicitly apply to adoption of new behaviors or health innovations. 2. It does not foster a participatory approach to adoption of a public health program. 3. It works better with adoption of behaviors rather than cessation or prevention of behaviors. 4. It doesn't take into account an individual's resources or social support to adopt the new behavior (or innovation).
  19. 19. This theory has been used successfully in many fields including communication, agriculture, public health, criminal justice, social work, and marketing. In public health, Diffusion of Innovation Theory is used to accelerate the adoption of important public health programs that typically aim to change the behavior of a social system. For example, an intervention to address a public health problem is developed, and the intervention is promoted to people in a social system with the goal of adoption (based on Diffusion of Innovation Theory). The most successful adoption of a public health program results from understanding the target population and the factors influencing their rate of adoption.

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