Diffusion of innovations theory

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Published on February 26, 2014

Author: gayathrivathiriyar

Source: slideshare.net

DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS THEORY (or: Multi-step flow theory)

 Diffusion research goes one step further than two-step flow theory. The original diffusion research was done as early as 1903 by the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde who plotted the original S-shaped diffusion curve. Tardes' 1903 Sshaped curve is of current importance because "most innovations have an S-shaped rate of adoption" (Rogers, 1995).

 Diffusion research centers on the conditions which increase or decrease the likelihood that a new idea, product, or practice will be adopted by members of a given culture.  Diffusion of innovation theory predicts that media as well as interpersonal contacts provide information and influence opinion and judgment.

 Studying how innovation occurs, E.M. Rogers (1995) argued that it consists of four stages: invention, diffusion (or communication) through the social system, time and consequences.  The information flows through networks. The nature of networks and the roles opinion leaders play in them determine the likelihood that the innovation will be adopted.

 Innovation diffusion research has attempted to explain the variables that influence how and why users adopt a new information medium, such as the Internet.  Opinion leaders exert influence on audience behavior via their personal contact, but additional intermediaries called change agents and gatekeepers are also included in the process of diffusion.

 Five adopter categories are:  (1) innovators, (2.5%),  (2) early adopters, (13.5% )  (3) early majority, (34%)  (4) late majority, (34%) and  (5) laggards. (16%)

Statements  Diffusion is the “process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over a period of time among the members of a social system”.  An innovation is “an idea, practice, or object that is perceived to be new by an individual or other unit of adoption”.

 “Communication is a process in which participants create and share information with one another to reach a mutual understanding” (Rogers, 1995).

Scope and Application  Diffusion research has focused on five elements: (1) the characteristics of an innovation which may influence its adoption; (2) the decision-making process that occurs when individuals consider adopting a new idea, product or practice; (3) the characteristics of individuals that make them likely to adopt an innovation; (4) the consequences for individuals and society of adopting an innovation; and (5) communication channels used in the adoption process.

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